The Dying Animal and American Pastoral.

I’m listening to Roth’s The Dying Animal.  Am I a bad man for thinking it’s soooo much better than Roth’s lauded American Pastoral?  Um, it is.  All I remember about AP is a guy named Swede, a bridge, and a barbeque.  DA, it’s so … well, misogynistic. But Roth, that’s where he shines, isn’t it?  Kepesh is an a-hole (at least on disc one) but you can smell the pleasure Roth had in writing it.  AP felt like a chore, like Roth was putting the pieces where they were expected to be by awards judges.  DA is looser.  I haven’t read the other two Kepesh books (The Breast and The Professor of Desire; I own the latter) but this one’s got the goods.  Again, 1/4 of the way through.

Kakutani didn’t like it, as she found Kepesh unsympathetic, which I’m not sure is all that disappointing to Roth, but Franzen, it makes him mad, it’s not fair!!!  A.O. Scott, she felt bad for Kepesh, which, hmm, we’ll see. 

Here’s a picture of Roth thinking about writing something that will make you angry, and not caring.

Here’s Charlie Brown.



3 Replies to “The Dying Animal and American Pastoral.”

  1. I haven’t yet read The Dying Animal, but American Pastoral is vastly overrated. It’s never been clear to me why that’s the Roth novel everyone loves.

  2. I’ve read both, and I don’t agree… though I dont’ disagree either. I think they’re different. AP was a book of social commentary, about how large historical movements affect individual lives, and DA is about one guy.

    I actually gave up reading DA the first time, because it was about a man obsessed with a hot woman (boring) but I gave it another try and loved it the second time — I loved the way he told the story right out of his head, as if it came to him in a rush. I love the way it’s about a life interpreted through a particular consciousness, and how pared down and concentrated it is. It’s a lot like Exit Ghost in that way.

    I read AP 11 years ago, so I don’t remember it quite as clearly, but I do remember loving the sweep of it, and the character of the daughter, who was terrifying.

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