The American Pastoral and the big race
From Uganda, sent on a electoral observation mission, I confess to dedicate the little free time I have, and that night, to the American campaign. For the way in which it was conceived and the way it is carried out: if I think of the Italian countryside, where now the number of non-voters is outpacing that of the voters, the interest of the Americans – or I would say the best way it is represented – tells a great part of the US soul.
I generally proceed in this way: I choose a candidate before the Iowa caucus, and I fall in love for one, following him/her like I could really do it. If I had to trust the reason I could not do anything but support Hillary, with her red dress badly combined with blond streaks hairdressing (by the way: who is the drug addict who takes care of her image?), But who cares, he was so skilled in her public and private life to be the ideal candidate. But it is early to say (look what happened yesterday in Iowa … and it is no coincidence that fans of the TV series The Good Wife have appreciated the fact that the new episode of the series is set entirely in the state where the campaign starts). Instead I follow my heart, television, and the media representation of the American public, I witch just like their TV series, and more.
This time after the Iowa caucus fell during my rereading – after twenty years – of that monument to contemporary literature that is American Pastoral by Philip Roth (nice to be back on the books that you think you’ve figured out by young but no). In short: the protagonist is always the writer’s alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, who chooses to excuse a gathering of ex-alumni of college to reconstruct the history of American youth from the ’50s to the ’74. A special youth in particular: that of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, whose fathers and mothers had decided to leave behind – if ever it were possible – the Holocaust and trying to live again, like the Golem of their mythology . Self-made men who put on handicraft gloves factories, whose were then transferred to Indonesia and then in China. Those children raised in the myth of the sport that makes most famous of the study here, because Zuckerman loves what is dubbed the Swedish, the heart of his story. The blond athlete who all adore, who married a Irish Catholic Miss somewhere, because that was the American miracle of that time, in which all was thought possible, just rewarding only to those who work hard, the ritual of Sunday lunch, the constant refrain of the work, be right and you’ll be rewarded. Of course he believes in the Swedish, he is the envy of all the comrades emaciated and no muscles, which will become the owner of the glove factory of his father, a brother surgeon who rather than go to a direct confrontation with the home’s giant , prefers to get away far as possible from Newark, suburb of migrants. The Swedish who protects his daughter stuttering and diligent, the Swedish astonished and destroyed the sees the young transformed into a terrorist with a bomb capable of killing even the neighbours and then disappear.
The magnitude of Roth, in all his novels, is the stark honesty to speak to a man’s world – still not very numerous – who has the courage to ask this: What have I done? What I did not understand of the past? and especially, what does not allow me to survive this?
America has been in the way for so many years: that of the great moral and civic values , at the same time the pioneer of the revolutionary movements, the America of Reverend King and the Ku Klux Klan. America that led to the White House an African American but that does not see many black people on the street to support governors and presidents, as well as does not see Latinos, blacks rappers, whose music is great for dancing but not to devote to their families a welfare system that returns dignity of human beings. And the America which had been aroused by Natural born killers, Goodfellas, Stephen King.
Then even that big bubble burst in that tragic September 11: and the emergency that was all in the country (Iraq also, but is certainly nothing to do with what it would destroy them after) it was packed out. America is under attack, the enemy is only one and throughout the West tightens them in a big hug.
Today even military expenditures are part of the program of some candidates, and there are parents who want their children soldiers in Afghanistan back alive, but the common feeling is that.
In representations sometimes too similar to the Truman Show, I stay still kidnapped by the public eating and waving flags, buses of the candidates and the multitude of reporters, the blond hair of Trump or the memory of mammy Sarah Pailin, because a touch of exaggeration never hurts. Impresses me just that excess of hugging and squeezing into the hands of the candidates and their families: there are also the Ellen De Generes kissing their partner in front of the cameras, the candidate with the surrogate or the supermarket cashier Latinos working in California, because in the America of everything those things are always possible, but the drawers with the dirty clothes must still kept closed.
So at the end of all it, my heart turned to Bernie Sanders, impossible utopian socialist. He will not be Pelizza da Volpedo or Rosa Luxembourg, but I like him because doesn’t match with the other candidates. Of course, if he should also kiss less the family would be perfect …