50 Nifty – New Jersey

This is a post in my 50 Nifty series, in which I’m reading through 50 books that embody each of the 50 United States. Find out why I’m doing this and which books I’m reading when (so you can read along) by checking out my first 50Nifty post, or else browse all 50Nifty posts by clicking here!

American Pastoral, Philip Roth

american pastoral

This Pulitzer Prize winner is one I listened to back in May (because it was available at the library then, so why not, right?). It tells the story of Swede Levov, a famous-in-his-day high school athlete who takes over his family’s leather glove manufacturing business, marries a former beauty pageant contender, and seems to be living the dream until his daughter makes a name for herself in the world of political terrorism. Beautifully written, although long and at some points boring, this epic story looks deeply at relationships and one’s ultimate inability to control or influence anyone but one’s own self, and the heartache and damage that that realization can actually bring. It was an engaging book, but it seemed longer than its 15 hours (audiobook reading time).

As for its inclusion on the 50Nifty list, I think it’s a great choice. So much of what happens in the book revolves around New Jersey specifically and the Northeast in general that I feel like it really does invoke the sense of place there. Evidently, they’re (finally, after many years and many script/cast changes) making a film version set to come out in 2016. We’ll see if that happens, though, as we’ve heard it before! Ewan McGregor and Jennifer Connely to star.

#50Niftyin15 – See you next week!




Filed under 50nifty, place, recent reads

3 responses to “50 Nifty – New Jersey

  1. BevMom

    Wow. Another great book. And I think it was one of my favorites. Even though I had to go back and read again the sections on Skip’s meeting with Swede and the reunion conversation with Jerry after I finished the book. I think I liked or at least understood the characters in this ever revealing saga of family and friends. I least understood Merry. We’ll have to talk. And it was another way of affirming the fact that everyone is not only what is visible. People carry so much hidden reality. The writing was so good. I appreciated how Roth showed the pain Swede was carrying even when thinking about happy times; “She had danced with the head waiter, his six-year-old child, before she killed four people.” I think I really liked him more and more as the truth enfolded. I think he really was a good guy who . . . Well, I’d love to see the movie, too, if they make it.

    • Rachel

      “It was another way of affirming the fact that everyone is not only what is visible. People carry so much hidden reality.” So TRUE! I think that is why I like reading so much: it allows me to peek into other people’s below the surface icebergs.

  2. Pingback: 50 Nifty in 15 | wert and art

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