So what did I think? Well this is sort of an overview of what I found within.
For me, Philip Roth's style of writing was uniquely his own and very different from my own style. At first I didn't like it but as I delved further into the first book I could see the appeal for readers. The narrator, Nathan Zuckerberg is very chatty and inquisitive. The effect on the reader is to begin to feel chummy with him as he leads the reader into an investigation of the issues of the day by focusing on an individual whose story captures him.
The first two, American Pastoral and I Married a Communist focus on the heroes of young Nathan Zuckerman, the baseball and other sports hero and his mentors in politics. The last involves a man Nathan befriends after he is accused of being racist who requests that Nathan tell his story. In a sense none of these novels has a hero in the traditional sense--I think they all act as protagonists of their own life, worth and attainment and success being subjective to both the reader and the protagonist's values. Nathan deals with the protagonists as mentors who lead him to examine his own needs I.E. teaching him about stories, politics, diatribe, life's value, family, the work ethic and more. Nathan often tells the story as if told to him by one of the character, sometimes delving further into an imagined experience via a character's point of view but always letting the story creep back into how he feels about life, art, and how the story grips him.
American Pastoral was selected for the almost modern retelling of the same story as The Great Gatsby, the tale of how America views the American Dream. The American Trilogy, I would say tells the past decades I lived through including the post World
War II years, the McCarthy anti - communist years, the Vietnam era and afterwards (although I was pretty young during many of the years and heard about some through the filter of my parents and then through my uncles drafted and who served in Vietnam and since then through friends. Vietnam is one of the American wars I know the least about because I think it is hard to get a coherent view of events while they are happening (witness the information released from the Russian states following the collapse and how it added to our overall understanding).
How is the American Dream evaluated? An initial reaction is via the betrayals individuals make via their culture, race, beliefs, relationships as a factor of their pursuit of life, liberty, wealth. I will write more on this in more blogs.