I'll preface this by saying that this is a challenging novel, but if you allow yourself to get pulled in, you will be blown away by its depth. I sympathized with the protagonist as much as I ever have for a fictional character. My only criticism is the ending, which I don't think did this book justice.
I can see why this is a "masterpiece" & a pulitizer prize winner. The author paints very complete portrait of the main character the Swede. The story is interesting but the very thorough examination of the Swede inner workings is the centerpiece of the book. It is truly the examined life. He leaves things for the reader to figure out and so it's a book that lets you question the fate of the characters. Probably would've been really fun to read with someone else or in a book club.
The first 90 pages kept putting me to sleep (I read before bed). Aging high school athletic stars and old men with prostate problems apparently do not interest me at all. The book did become more interesting later but the narrator (Zuckerman) is unreliable.
To me, this story was largely narrative - a commentary of the social turbulence of the 60's and an analysis of human traits, desires, etc. I was looking for a story (plot) and Roth did start to give me one but then went back to the narrative/commentary. If you are not going to have a plot then you need interesting characters. I found most of the characters and their actions/inactions more annoying than interesting. Roth left many of the threads of the story unanswered. He did convey the bewilderment and confusion of the parents of radical protesters well.
I've read a lot of Pulitzers and this one left me underwhelmed.
An amazing multi-layered book. Very complex,not an easy read. Found it difficult at first but once I got into it I could not put it down. Intense, sad, and at times very ugly. Highly recommend if you are looking for a book that is just the opposite of mindless!
This book moved slowly for me, but it was a National Bestseller written by Philip Roth (author of The Human Stain).
Philip Roth's 22nd book takes a life-long view of the American experience in this thoughtful investigation of the century's most divisive and explosive of decades, the '60s. Returning again to the voice of his literary alter ego Nathan Zuckerman, Roth is at the top of his form. His prose is carefully controlled yet always fresh and intellectually subtle as he reconstructs the halcyon days, circa World War II, of Seymour "the Swede" Levov, a high school sports hero and all-around Great Guy who wants nothing more than to live in tranquillity. But as the Swede grows older and America crazier, history sweeps his family inexorably into its grip: His own daughter, Merry, commits an unpardonable act of "protest" against the Vietnam war that ultimately severs the Swede from any hope of happiness, family, or spiritual coherence.