Philip Roth-New Book

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Philip Roth-New Book

Sep 18, 2008, 6:28pm

unique graphic review of Roth's new book:

Sep 19, 2008, 3:03pm

I made the mistake of reading the NY Times review which, aside from being less complimentary than the Voice review you posted (I have no problem with that), gives away much too much of the plot (I have a big problem with that). As all Roth books, I will read this one at my first opportunity. But after Exit Ghost, I'm no longer expecting the sheer brilliance from Roth that I once did.

Oct 1, 2008, 7:14pm

perhaps his masterpieces are behind him but each book adds another layer. some of the characters feel familiar but his writing is still filled with humor and a keen eye.

i have yet to read Indignation but will certainly get to it in the next few much to read!!!!

Oct 7, 2008, 2:52pm

I stayed up late last night finishing Indignation. Turns out, I liked it very much, indeed. The book is a spare and focused tale that I found a very effective and moving allegory for how life and expectations can come quickly unraveled when the times become scary and confusing. And of course, there's Roth's wonderful writing style. For the most part, here, except for one or two spots, he leaves the polemics behind and just concentrates on pure storytelling.

For me, anyway, this was Roth's most powerful book in quite a while.

Oct 26, 2008, 12:27pm

i read Indignation- a very quick , easy read, rather inconsequential but I enjoyed the family dynamics between Marcus and his parents and his wonder and awe at his first oral sexual encounter...seems to be going back to his early Portnoy days.

Oct 22, 2009, 5:55pm

Another new Roth novel is coming -The Humbling- his 30th. and with it there appears a wonderful brief interview film conducted by Tina Brown. enjoy:

Nov 12, 2009, 2:10pm

Bert, I will check out that interview when I have time, but to say, as the headline for the webpage does, that The Humbling finds Roth "at the height of his powers" is hyperbole to put it mildly and flatteringly. I read it last night, and I was sadly unimpressed. And you have to understand that Roth is one of my true literary heroes.

Nov 12, 2009, 7:28pm

not every book can be American Pastoral...i'll get around to reading it anyway but i have read some of the reviews and most describe it as a minor effort.

Modifié : Nov 12, 2009, 8:13pm

#8> Bert, No, you're not getting me. I liked Indignation, and that was certainly no American Pastoral. For me, this book is just not very good. Others may disagree, of course, and I'm certainly not telling you not to read it. Personally, I read every Roth, good, bad or indifferent. In case you're interested, my review is here:

Nov 13, 2009, 9:52pm

i also liked another of his shorter books- Exit Ghost, and really liked the earlier The Ghost Writer

Fév 25, 2013, 1:18pm

i nteresting item in NY Magazine:

also there is a lecture on Roth on March 18 at New School for Social Research - i have 1 extra tkt. if anyone is interested.

Fév 2, 2014, 8:52am

Only just finding this thread - and realising that it originally referred to Indignation - when that book was newly published. Just wanted to say that I've been a Roth fan for a while, but had been increasingly sporadically actually reading his books. I plan to re-read American Pastoral one day as I don't think I was really ready to read it, and get the most out of it, at the time that I did.

I did though quite recently listen to the Indignation audiobook and wanted to say that I was really charmed by it. My review is here.

Nice link to the Village Voice review by the way - I liked the graphic illustrations.

Fév 5, 2014, 1:25pm

Thanks, Bert. I will work my way through those one or two at a time as time permits.

Mar 3, 2014, 2:59pm

#15> I read that yesterday. It's quite interesting.

Mar 8, 2014, 10:58am

embedded in this interview is a fabulous list of American novelists that Roth admires. It is a long list offering a reader's delight:

"What has the aesthetic of popular culture to do with formidable postwar writers of such enormous variety as Saul Bellow, Ralph Ellison, William Styron, Don De­Lillo, E. L. Doctorow, James Baldwin, Wallace Stegner, Thomas Pynchon, Robert Penn Warren, John Updike, John Cheever, Bernard Malamud, Robert Stone, Evan Connell, Louis Auchincloss, Walker Percy, Cormac McCarthy, Russell Banks, William Kennedy, John Barth, Louis Begley, William Gaddis, Norman Rush, John Edgar Wideman, David Plante, Richard Ford, William Gass, Joseph Heller, Raymond Carver, Edmund White, Oscar Hijuelos, Peter Matthiessen, Paul Theroux, John Irving, Norman Mailer, Reynolds Price, James Salter, Denis Johnson, J. F. Powers, Paul Auster, William Vollmann, Alison Lurie, Flannery O’Connor, Paula Fox, Marilynne Robinson, Joyce Carol Oates, Joan Didion, Hortense Calisher, Jane Smiley, Anne Tyler, Jamaica Kincaid, Cynthia Ozick, Ann Beattie, Grace Paley, Lorrie Moore, Mary Gordon, Louise Erdrich, Toni Morrison, Eudora Welty (and I have by no means exhausted the list) or with serious younger writers as wonderfully gifted as Michael Chabon, Junot Díaz, Nicole Krauss, Maile Meloy, Jonathan Lethem, Nathan Englander, Claire Messud, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Safran Foer (to name but a handful)? "

Modifié : Nov 17, 2014, 4:21pm

Hey Philip Roth fans! This past Sunday's NY Times Magazine Section includes a fun essay by Roth about Portnoy's Complaint. The occasion of the piece is the Times asking several prominent authors to reread and then comment on an early novel of theirs.

Nov 17, 2014, 4:35pm

I have that issue!

Nov 17, 2014, 4:46pm

"sorry not sorry!"

It's unfortunate that he didn't succeed in "airing the repellent" with just that book, then. On the contrary, they got more repellent.

I say this as someone who enjoyed Portnoy's complaint once (and can still remember why).

But it's Roth's great private loss that he never managed to see beyond "virile rage". "Virile!" It is to laugh.

That dino's gone extinct before death.

Modifié : Nov 17, 2014, 5:02pm

#19> Thanks, CW. I meant to include that link, then forgot!

Lola, I don't know enough about Roth's personal life to comment on what might or might not have been his "great private loss." Of his life as a novelist, though, I think he put his finger on, and kept it on to ever escalating effectiveness, a raucous truth about American life and the relations between the sexes. Personally, I think Roth has been a truth-teller. His truth is rarely pretty (but it is often quite funny). Anyway, everybody has their own version of that, and Roth isn't for everyone.

I would submit, though, that there is nothing obsolete about writing about "virile rage." It may be out of fashion to discuss it, but it is not gone.

Nov 17, 2014, 5:12pm

>22 rocketjk:

I'm not talking about his personal life but psychological insight, wealth of inner life such as we expect from a writer. Deplorably lacking in him, for all you think he's a "truth-teller".

I would submit, though, that there is nothing obsolete about writing about "virile rage." It may be out of fashion to discuss it, but it is not gone.\

On the contrary, I'd say discussing "virile rage" is all the rage these days. :)

Modifié : Nov 17, 2014, 5:19pm

Lola, I couldn't disagree more with your take on Roth and his degree of human insight. I find most of his novels to be remarkably insightful. C'est la vie.

Modifié : Nov 17, 2014, 5:48pm

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Nov 26, 2014, 12:14pm


rocket- another vote of support and Roth acknowledgement from an aging new york city jewish male. The Ghost Writer is my favorite Roth book.

Nov 26, 2014, 1:36pm

Roth has one crabbed little voice spurting from his one-eyed Dick; great writers are capable of rendering the life symphonic. The former can be funny and interesting--in small doses. But when the entire oeuvre is this wildly biased droning monologue, focussed on the obsessions and delusions of one utterly self-unaware narcissist, the attraction palls soon.

Nov 26, 2014, 1:45pm

But enough with negativity! Let's look for something positive, so: can someone recommend any book by Roth with female characters who are human beings and not figments of a misogynistic imagination? Where the sexual relationships--at the centre of Roth's interests as man and writer--are given with completeness, conveying authentic-sounding experiences from all sides? He's prolific enough, surely there must be at least one title satisfying the requirement?

Nov 26, 2014, 7:56pm

27 & 28> I think you made your point already. I don't read Roth that way and millions of other literature lovers don't read him that way either. On the other hand, I know many people who feel the same as you. C'est la vie.

Modifié : Nov 26, 2014, 9:44pm

> 27,28

"{is there} any book by Roth with female characters who are human beings and not figments of a misogynistic imagination?"

Where did you get this idea? have you actually read his books or have you just been reading other people (women?) complaining about him? or read his ex-wife's jeremiad?

Roth can be brutally frank about male-female relations but my reading is that many of his male characters are not held up as examples to emulate, in fact most of them come in for a lot of implicit criticism; and to the extent that they might seem to be identifiable with the man himself they are more like parodies -- he's pulling his own leg. And many of the female characters are sympathetic. (It's hard for me to cite chapter and verse as its been 10 years or so since I read much Roth.)

"Where the sexual relationships... are given with completeness, conveying authentic-sounding experiences from all sides?"

That's a pretty high ideal to hold any writer to, male or female; and the judgement of their authenticity is going to be pretty subjective. I suspect many of your favorite writers can be faulted in this area. If you think Roth's female characters are just fuck-toys either you haven't read him or you went in with your mind made up.

"sexual relationships {are} at the centre of Roth's interests as man and writer"
This is a misrepresentation. Certainly it is one of his interests, but far from the only one.

"Safe" Roths to read might include The Counterlife, The Plot Against America, American Pastoral...

Déc 2, 2014, 1:30pm

30. i would add The Human Stain which is about universal themes: self identity, political correctness, satire of misunderstandings and alienation.

Déc 2, 2014, 4:04pm

Also The Ghost Writer, which makes compelling statements about the search for artistic identity and about father-son relationships.

Déc 4, 2014, 9:36am

Philip Roth tops the bill at PEN's annotated first edition auction

The most entertaining sales were Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint and American Pastoral. In the process of bidding on each book, the price jumped by thousands at a time, instead of the standard increments of $500 or $1,000. American Pastoral achieved the evening’s top price of $80,000, while Portnoy’s Complaint came in third at $52,000.

Déc 4, 2014, 12:25pm

>33 bergs47:- not surprised- an American treasure.

Modifié : Fév 17, 4:33pm

Honestly, I hope not, unless the hiatus has really given him some time to charge the batteries. Of the last several short novels, I only found one or two to be truly enjoyable, and The Humbling I actually thought was bad.

Fév 17, 1:55pm

New Roth book kinda-sorta.

A review, both amusing and annoying, of the new doorstop biography of Roth...

Fév 17, 4:32pm

>37 Crypto-Willobie: Holy cats! That's a hilarious book review, right there. If it's anywhere near an accurate portrayal of the book, that's one biography I'll be skipping. It'll be interesting to see what other reviewers have to say about it as we get closer to the publishing date.

Fév 17, 6:49pm

>38 rocketjk:

I take it that the reviewer intended it to be at least somewhat in the style of Roth. Did you find it to be so?

Modifié : Fév 17, 9:56pm

>39 Crypto-Willobie: Not that much, but I do give him a B+ for the concept. The reviewer didn't think much of the execution of the biography, clearly, and the form he chose to express that, which I think Roth would have approved of, was an effective one in terms of working in his own knowledge of Roth and Roth's work, while keeping his review from simply morphing into one long, you should pardon the expression, complaint. Plus, it clearly made the review more fun for him to write and, I would think, much more fun to read.