11.15.2007

American Pastoral

I finally read American Pastoral by Philip Roth. Took a while to suck me in, but once it did, it was amazing. Completely worthy of all the accolades. Plus, towards the end, is one of the best and truest passages I've ever read. Kindergarteners should be required to memorize this, as it's probably the best life lesson they could get.
How to penetrate to the interior of people was some skill or capacity that he did not possess. He just did not have the combination to that lock. Everyone who flashed the signs of goodness he took to be good. Everyone who flashed the signs of loyalty he took to be loyal. Everyone who flashed the signs of intelligence he took to be intelligent. And so he had failed to see into his daughter, failed to see into his wife, failed to see into his one and only mistress - probably had never even begun to see into himself. What was he, stripped of all of the signs he flashed? People were standing up everywhere shouting, "This is me! This is me!" Every time you looked at them they stood up and told you who they were, and the truth of it was that they had no more idea who or what they were than he had. They believed their flashing signs, too. They ought to be standing up and shouting, "This isn't me! This isn't me!" They would if they had any decency. "This isn't me!" Then you might know how to proceed through the flashing bullshit of this world.
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