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
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.