Wednesday, March 15, 2006
I didn't hate it. Not a glowing endorsement, I know. Philip Roth's Plot Against America was better than I was led to believe, but not as good as I hoped. If that makes any sense. A friend of mine read it. Well, she read most of it, but stopped with about 30 pages left. That's not a good sign. And still, I chose to read it. The first 100 pages are pretty good. In a weird way it reads like a non-comical version of Woody Allen's Radio Days. Depictions of 1930s and 1940s New Jersey interlaced with history. Franklin Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh, La Guardia, Hitler, Walter Winchell and other historical figures play important roles throughout the novel.
After the first 100 pages, Roth loses me. Though the idea of Lindbergh winning the 1940 presidential election and signing a treaty with Hitler is intriguing and horrifying, Roth's language bores me. It's tiresome to read the middle part. It's too history bookish and not literary enough for me.
The anti-semitism that begins to ruin America is astonishing and still, all to real. And even though you know the story is false, it reads like the truth. That seems to be Roth's point throughout the novel...figuring out what the Truth is. Is Lindbergh trying to wipe out Jewish Americans like his counterpart in Germany? Or is Roth's family and their friends taking it all wrong?
I like how Roth shows how easy it would be for our greatest fears to become realized. That what we hold dear and sacred could become our grave undoing. Though I felt it was a struggle to read, I know that not all good things come easily.
Would I recommend Plot? Yeah. Though it may be a bit tedious, I think I gained something from reading it. And that's all I can ask.
Dashiell Hammett The Thin Man
David Mitchell Cloud Atlas