Monday, August 11, 2008

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth ***

The idea for this book had a lot of promise: what if, instead of Roosevelt winning his third term as president in 1940, Lindbergh had run against him & won instead? As many people may or may not know, Lindbergh thought Hitler was pretty neat & that the Jews were running the world. So what would the US have looked like if he'd been in charge?

Like I said, sounds like a neat idea, especially when it's written in the first person as a memoir of...Philip Roth! Roth grew up in New Jersey during WWII in a predominantly Jewish town with his parents & older brother. So he just flips everything on it's head when he acts as though he's writing his autobiography from the early war years. Except in his book, we don't go to war with the Axis in December of 1941, since there is no Pearl Harbor. This is because Lindbergh had signed a treaty with Japan earlier in that year.

But what starts out great & hard to put down becomes mired, for me, in symbolism. Had it been a little more straightforward, I might have enjoyed this book more. But by the end I was just glad it was over. I'd have to say it was very disappointing that way: started with a bang & ended with a groan of relief.

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