Sunday, November 13, 2005

50 Book Challenge #62: The Plot Against America

When I mentioned that I was reading this book, there was a sudden outpouring of advice and analysis from the comment section. That, coupled with the fawning reactions it received when it first came out, constituted a buildup that almost no novel could live up to. Roth's a fine writer, but I found myself remotely chuckling at his clever parallelisms of plot instead of becoming engrossed in the story. The last few chapters dump two endings on us at once: an unsatisfying explanation of the last days of the fascist presidency and a tacked-on account of the narrator's family's travails during part of the previously outlined period. Only the latter rings true, compared with the preceding pages.

Apparently this book is better when appreciated in light of Roth's previous uses of similar themes and characters, but I like my books to stand on their own, and artful writing can only partially compensate for failure of imagination, so returns on future Roth reading seem small.
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