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63 Reviews
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80 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Elegy for American Innocence
Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for this riveting, quietly horrifying novel that shatters the idyllic illusion of an America that once might have been, but will be no more. American Pastoral is a brilliant commentary on our inability to effectively see beneath the surface of apparent well-being and contentment in others. The first of the "Zuckerman trilogy," (which...
Published on 19 Dec 2002

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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars American obsessional
American Pastoral is the first of a trilogy so loosely connected that even the publisher draws no attention to it. It wasn't until I had read the third volume - The Human Stain - that I realised I had come in at the end, and went back to the beginning with this book (the second volume is I Married A communist).

But reading The Human Stain first does throw...
Published on 29 Feb 2008 by M. Harrison


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12 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Appalling nonsense, 7 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: American Pastoral (Paperback)
Brilliant idea poorly executed; the character of the Swede is a clever one, yet any feeling I had for him was obscured by the repetitive blandness of the story, which just didn't ever seem to go anywhere special. The description of postwar America interlaced in the story is interesting - but the characters are poor and the plot patchy and never fully explained. My high hopes for this book were dashed, I'm afraid, and I grudge the time which I spent reading it. I would not recommend it to anyone.
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25 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A great story, very badly told, 9 Sep 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: American Pastoral (Paperback)
I found this an intensely frustrating book to read. Roth has a lot of interesting things to say, and can develop a good story. Why, then, does he not give the story its head? Why does he insist on following every phrase of dialogue with a long paragraph of tedious commentary? Why, when the story is finally getting going, does he insist on going off on a 10-page nostalgic rant? Why does he spend the first 100 pages justifying the story he is going to tell before he starts telling it? Is he being clever by stopping the story half-way through, with all the questions unanswered, or is he just copping out?
I think Roth is loved by critics because critics speed-read. Those of us who read every sentence really suffer from his self-indulgence, over-elaboration, and poorly constructed sentences.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I hated it, 9 April 2013
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This review is from: American Pastoral (Paperback)
Boring, very clumsy sententences, disjointed narrative, vocabulary was far too complex & did not enhance the boring sentences. Only read it because it was a bookclub choice.
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8 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 24 April 2008
This review is from: American Pastoral (Paperback)
Having discovered the brilliance of Roth after reading The Human Stain I was very much looking forward to American Pastoral, the first in the Nathan Zuckerman Trilogy.
If I had read this book first I would not have read another! After a very promising start the storyline drifts off at the point Skip Zuckerman invents the life story of Swede Levov.
At that point the prose becomes unbearably tedious to the very end of the book without any respite. If there was a point to it then it was completely over my head - very very boring and wouldnt recommend it.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous book, 8 Feb 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: American Pastoral (Paperback)
All one can do is admire every sentence in this book. The books construction, its story and its meaning are communicated by Roth with rare insight. I would recommend this book to anyone.
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12 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Most Over-rated Author In History, 12 Oct 2008
This review is from: American Pastoral (Paperback)
Other reviewers, even ones who got the fundamental point that this book is simply boring, still seem to say absurd things like how great the writing is and how complicated and intense the prose is and so on...

That this book is dull and tepid is clear. But what I wish to point out is how poorly written it is. We are bashed over the head again and again with exact and clear descriptions of the emotional, moral, spiritual and historical import of what is happening. Characters experience things in complete clarity and tell us all about it. Young children have the most amazing insight into what they experience and what it signifies. Pure tripe.

Roth makes the most elementary mistakes as an author, even as basic as constantly telling rather than showing. His prose is unexciting and lacks even the subtlest hint of subtlety. He is without doubt the most over-rated author in history. He comes across to me as someone who desperately wanted to be an author and who overcame his complete lack of creativity and intelligence to achieve his ambitions in spite of a total absence of native talent. The resulting works are the irrelevant products of someone trying real hard.

Once the hype and marketing campaigns are over Roth will be remembered as an embarrassment to literature. Don't waste your valuable reading time on Roth. There are thousands of other better reads.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly, 28 April 2007
This review is from: American Pastoral (Paperback)
Nothing much happens here, but boy what a great read. Essentially this is the story of `The Swede' who is a faired haired Jewish boy who is adored and makes good. He always does the right thing living in glove heaven. He always tries to smooth everything over to be moderate, always compromising, always looking on the bright side and always abides everything patiently with absolute decorum. Tragedy strikes in a profound and personal way which spits in the face of decorum. He has always done everything right but circumstances develop into a peculiar intensity beyond resolve. This is a scholarly work from a great writer.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting style, a sad story, 6 May 2006
By 
Audrius Alkauskas (Lithuania and Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: American Pastoral (Paperback)
This is the first book of Philip Roth that I have read. Therefore, I have no chance to compare it to his previous works. So I judge this writer as a first-time reader.

To tell the truth, I like Roth's narrative style. Maybe it is not just to comapare, but he has some of the Stephen King's talent - to be able to tell about one diner, for example, in more than 50 pages. There is not too much going in the book, with not too many events, and the rest is filled with memories from the past, sadness, remorse, self-blaming, etc... A dark fate of America (and the whole world) revealed through a dark fate of one American-Jewish family. Even as a young person, I have compassion for Roth's pain, and I believe the older I grow, the more I will like this book. I gave four stars instead of five for the very same reason I liked the book: writer's ability to tell about some event in 50 pages (instead of 2 or 3 pages) sometimes is annoying... But this is probably, again, the side-effect of my young age :)

In summary, a good book, one of the best I read during the last year.
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8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars tiring, 4 Oct 2008
By 
Nt Deregowski (Brazil) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: American Pastoral (Paperback)
This book is very boring to read. Roth really seems to believe that anything thing he writes is interesting. The result is a terrible lack of concision and lack of structure.

Result- tedium
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10 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring, repetitive and depressing, 28 Mar 2007
By 
Peter B (London England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: American Pastoral (Paperback)
Sorry, I know he's an award-winning writer but this book is just boring and depressing. He makes a slightly interesting point about the loss of the American dream but repeats the same message (in the same words!) over and over again. There's isn't much of a plot but the key plot-line - what happens to a member of Swede's family - is too bizarre to be credible. But if that did happen, then he would have every right to be depressed, so it's not much of a commentary on the general state of the Americam dream. Also, who wants to read pages and pages about how to make gloves!
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American Pastoral
American Pastoral by Philip Roth (Paperback - 5 Mar 1998)
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