American Pastoral is the story of a fortunate American’s rise and fall – of a strong, confident master of social equilibrium overwhelmed by the forces of social disorder. Seymour “Swede” Levov – a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, the prosperous inheritor of his father’s Newark glove factory – comes of age in thriving, triumphant postwar America. But everything he loves is lost when the country begins to run amok in the turbulent 1960s. Not even the most private, well-intentioned citizen, it seems, gets to sidestep the sweep of history. With vigorous realism, Roth takes us back to the conflicts and violent transitions of the 1960s. This is a book about loving – and hating – America. It’s a book about wanting to belong – and refusing to belong – to America. It sets the desire for an American pastoral – a respectable life of space, calm, order, optimism, and achievement – against the indigenous American Berserk.
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