Friday, April 27, 2012
American Pastoral - Philip Roth
As a boy Zuckerman idolized the Swede but was always afraid to talk to him, even when Zuckerman came over to get beat at ping pong by the Swede's younger brother. Years later Swede writes Zuckerman a letter, asking if he might be interested in writing a story about his father. They meet for dinner and nothing comes of it, but it's after Zuckerman attends a high school reunion and talks to Swede's brother, now a successful cardiac surgeon in Miami who keeps divorcing and marrying his nurses, does bits of the story comes out. Of course Zuckerman was wrong about the idolized version of the Swede, just as wrong as he is about the fiction one he creates. We're always wrong, according to Roth:
''You get them wrong before you meet them,'' Zuckerman says of ''people'' in general, ''while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you're with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again.''