Ask me about the work of Philip Roth

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i think i read the few zuckermans i've gone through in fairly quick succession, but then they start fairly easily. a couple of his are more pageturning than others - the plot against america - but then i know i probably waited a while after the human stain. i'm a little sketchy on my tally of how many i've read because i've set aside a bunch half way through - my life as a man, portnoy, the third? zuckerman book with the zionism and the illness (so glad when i found out that other people couldn't motivate themselves to plough through it either). some of it's psychologically dense enough to feel like you need a rest, for sure.

schlump, Wednesday, 4 March 2009 19:44 (nine years ago) Permalink

although unlike shipley and jordan and dom i have actually met whiney g weingarten in person for approx 45 seconds

abebe¿abebe (and what), Wednesday, 4 March 2009 19:49 (nine years ago) Permalink

haw wrong thread!@!

abebe¿abebe (and what), Wednesday, 4 March 2009 19:49 (nine years ago) Permalink

How often do you read Roth? I've read eight-and-a-bit of his now. I feel a bit exhausted at the end of each one, so have to go through a good long rest period before trying him again. So while I think I'd be pretty happy to read no other authors ever again, I don't actually think it would raise my Roth rate very much

I'm obviously not a normal case, as I read little other than Roth for 4+ years (ok, I had to read a bunch of other stuff, but I had to *always* be reading/thinking about/writing on Roth). I don't feel exhausted at the end of a Roth book, no--although above, I think Laurel(?) said she thought his endings are weird, they tend to leave me exhilarated more than anything else. I guess I can understand that, if you were not a fan of his voice, the books could be exhausting, because that voice is so insistent, so persistent, that you'd just say 'enough already'. But I love his authorial voice, and I can open pretty much any of his books feel pretty much total trust in where that voice might take me.

f f murray abraham (G00blar), Thursday, 5 March 2009 12:10 (nine years ago) Permalink

i really enjoyed that piece you linked, it's really insightful!!!

urban-suburban hip-hop settings (hmmmm), Thursday, 5 March 2009 12:28 (nine years ago) Permalink

Thanks a lot!

f f murray abraham (G00blar), Thursday, 5 March 2009 12:33 (nine years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

I got Exit Ghost in hardback for £1 today (Union Street Poundland, all you Glasgowers - and perhaps other Poundlands across the country). I haven't read anything else by him though I've been meaning to, so 1. can I read this without reading the other Zuckerman books? and 2. if I can, is it a good idea?

Like, (Expletive) my (expletive). (Merdeyeux), Monday, 18 May 2009 15:13 (nine years ago) Permalink

if i'm in the toon this week I'll definitely be going to the Poundland.

languid samuel l. jackson (jim), Monday, 18 May 2009 15:33 (nine years ago) Permalink

Interesting fact: Philip Roth writes a lot about dick, and Philip Dick writes a lot about wrath.

Subtlest Fart Joke (Oilyrags), Monday, 18 May 2009 17:57 (nine years ago) Permalink

1. yes
2. no, cause he wrote much better books than exit ghost

Zeno, Monday, 18 May 2009 18:02 (nine years ago) Permalink

this, basically^

Exit Ghost has some good bits, and it's a great idea of a book, but Roth didn't do as much as he should of with the set-up, I thought. It wasn't funny enough, for one. (And what was with the ten pages out of nowhere on Plimpton?) It's by no means a bad book, though; Roth writes circles around most other authors so there's always pleasure to be found in his books (for me, at least).

Bathtime at the Apollo (G00blar), Monday, 18 May 2009 19:06 (nine years ago) Permalink

Just picked up Zuckerman Bound secondhand. The Ghost Writer's a lovely, concise, subtle piece of work. Zuckerman Unbound is wildly solipsistic but funny and odd, especially the scenes with Alvin Pepler. The Anatomy Lesson seems to me completely pointless and rudderless but like G00blar says, there's pleasure to be found along the way. I'm hoping The Prague Orgy turns things around a bit. Reading The Anatomy Lesson, there's no way you'd predict the later Zuckerman masterpieces. Zuckerman (and by extension Roth) is so much better when he's observing and recording someone else's story rather than writing about himself, I think, although I haven't read The Counterlife or Exit Ghost yet.

Love this thread by the way G00blar. Perfect companion to my current Roth binge.

Dorian (Dorianlynskey), Monday, 18 May 2009 19:45 (nine years ago) Permalink

Nice! Yeah, you should continue with the Prague Orgy and The Counterlife, the latter of which will give you ample time to compare Zuckerman writing about himself and writing about others. It's an astounding piece of work, Roth operating on all cylinders.

Bathtime at the Apollo (G00blar), Monday, 18 May 2009 20:03 (nine years ago) Permalink

(And what was with the ten pages out of nowhere on Plimpton?)

I'm assuming Roth wrote them from the heart.

Eazy, Monday, 18 May 2009 20:19 (nine years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

I recently ploughed through Operation Shylock and am nearing the end of The Counterlife. Both books feature extended sequences in Israel that start off plausibly enough, before descending to a greater or lesser extent into something less like farce and more like an extended Jewish in-joke. My question is: what is the goyische reader supposed to take from these bits?

Ismael Klata, Friday, 16 October 2009 13:58 (nine years ago) Permalink

I enjoyed this Roth interview in today's Times. It doesn't go into great depth, but I liked the bits about his method.

He seems agreeably free of pretension, interested above all in good stories - which makes my question more of a puzzle to me, really. I love nabisco's story upthread about the mother in The Plot Against America, it's a little hard to reconcile that with the in-jokes and self-referencey bits that have plagues the ones I've read recently.

Ismael Klata, Saturday, 17 October 2009 12:18 (nine years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

"If you read a novel in more than two weeks you don't read the novel really."


peter falk's panther burns (schlump), Thursday, 12 November 2009 17:52 (eight years ago) Permalink

Oi! My question first.

Ismael Klata, Thursday, 12 November 2009 17:56 (eight years ago) Permalink

i read the human stain in under 2 weeks because i wanted it to be over

harbl, Thursday, 12 November 2009 17:56 (eight years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

whats ur opinion of the assfucking scene in the humbling

johnny crunch, Saturday, 10 April 2010 23:35 (eight years ago) Permalink

just read the humbling ... not very good? i dunno, the beginning had potential, but the relationship with Pegeen was uhhhh. And I've liked these last few shorter novels, Indignation, Exit Ghost, Everyman, etc. But this one just seemed pointless.

tylerw, Sunday, 11 April 2010 01:30 (eight years ago) Permalink

what do we think of The Ghost Writer? Just finished. Not sure I want any more Zuckerman.

quincie, Sunday, 11 April 2010 02:20 (eight years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

if i pick up patrimony as something to just zip through on autopilot will i enjoy it? i heard good things a while ago and my interest is piqued, never having read any of his autobio stuff, and despite having a few of the bigger novels still waiting (eg Sabbath's)

devoted to boats (schlump), Wednesday, 22 June 2011 13:31 (seven years ago) Permalink

Patrimony is better than many of his novels.

The Edge of Gloryhole (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 22 June 2011 13:35 (seven years ago) Permalink

I'm trying to think if I've read any better delineations of the father-son relationship.

The Edge of Gloryhole (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 22 June 2011 13:35 (seven years ago) Permalink

i wonder if i might've read you enthusing about it here before. it's been a while since i've read one of the novels, really, so am ready for something. thanks for the rec.

devoted to boats (schlump), Wednesday, 22 June 2011 13:45 (seven years ago) Permalink

I'm sure I have!

The Edge of Gloryhole (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 22 June 2011 13:54 (seven years ago) Permalink

ten months pass...

Just finished I Married a Communist, and American Pastoral before that. And of course I'll go ahead and read Human Stain next, just to finish up the trio. I actually really enjoyed Communist, even though it garners no mention in this thread other than g00blar saying it's the worst of the Zuckermans!

Mad God 40/40 (Z S), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 17:16 (six years ago) Permalink

I Married A Communist includes a reference to two gangsters named Big Pussy and Little Pussy, a year before The Sopranos began.

caro's johnson (Eazy), Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:10 (six years ago) Permalink

i used to feel like american pastoral was the best book i ever read. now i rate a couple things above it, but it's still in my top 5 of all time.

Mordy, Thursday, 10 May 2012 19:30 (six years ago) Permalink

I've twice tried I Married A Communist and given up in boredom within fifty pages or so. It's very odd, I've never remotely had that problem with any of his other stuff.

Ismael Klata, Thursday, 10 May 2012 19:42 (six years ago) Permalink

I love I Married a Communist. No way the worst of the Zuckermans. Better than The Human Stain, The Anatomy Lesson and The Prague Orgy for starters. Maybe it's just because I'm fascinated by the Red Scare but I couldn't see why it was so disliked.

Recently read Nemesis, which I adored - his best since American Pastoral imo. Would rather read about wartime New Jersey than horny old writers any day.

Re: Ismael's 2009 question, my Jewish grandfather lived in Israel and I've been there a couple of times so the themes in The Counterlife resonated with me even though it's mostly huge chunks of debate crowbarred into the mouths of thinly drawn characters. What really struck (and depressed) me was how little the debate has changed since he wrote it.

Get wolves (DL), Thursday, 10 May 2012 20:08 (six years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

One for Barthes, Alfred and anyone else who's down on authorial intent.

My interlocutor was told by the “English Wikipedia Administrator”—in a letter dated August 25th and addressed to my interlocutor—that I, Roth, was not a credible source: “I understand your point that the author is the greatest authority on their own work,” writes the Wikipedia Administrator—“but we require secondary sources.”

Get wolves (DL), Friday, 7 September 2012 17:03 (six years ago) Permalink


Mr. Que, Friday, 7 September 2012 17:06 (six years ago) Permalink

If you haven't read the Human Stain Roth's letter contains a shitload of spoilers BTW. Fascinating if you have though - I always thought the "spooks" misunderstanding was a weak premise - I didn't realise it was true.

Get wolves (DL), Friday, 7 September 2012 17:17 (six years ago) Permalink

1 comment |

Posted 9/7/2012, 1:04:00pm by comancheria

a regina spektor is haunting europe (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 7 September 2012 17:31 (six years ago) Permalink

Good to read something new from Roth. He was at a pace of a novella per year in the late 2000s. I was wondering if he was still writing.

Earth, Wind & Fire & Alabama (Eazy), Friday, 7 September 2012 18:17 (six years ago) Permalink

There's been a response:

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 16 September 2012 20:42 (six years ago) Permalink

Good to read something new from Roth. He was at a pace of a novella per year in the late 2000s. I was wondering if he was still writing.

― Earth, Wind & Fire & Alabama (Eazy), Friday, September 7, 2012 7:17 PM (1 week ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink


just sayin, Sunday, 16 September 2012 21:01 (six years ago) Permalink

does gooblar still post under some name? i saw his book in the library

thomp, Sunday, 16 September 2012 21:26 (six years ago) Permalink

What book's this? Would read.

Ismael Klata, Sunday, 16 September 2012 21:29 (six years ago) Permalink

g00blar, d4v1d. the major phases of philip roth (london: continuum, 2011)

thomp, Sunday, 16 September 2012 21:40 (six years ago) Permalink

It'd better answer my 2009 question.

Ismael Klata, Sunday, 16 September 2012 21:45 (six years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

i read the human stain in under 2 weeks because i wanted it to be over

― harbl, Thursday, 12 November 2009 17:56 (2 years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink


Blue Collar Retail Assistant (Dwight Yorke), Thursday, 4 October 2012 13:12 (six years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

ruh roh

Philip Roth is calling it a career.

In an interview with a French publication called Les inRocks last month — which does not appear to have been reported in the United States — Roth, 78, said he has not written anything new in the last three years, and that he will not write another novel.

“To tell you the truth, I’m done,” Roth told the magazine, in the most definitive statement he has ever made about his future plans. “‘Nemesis’ will be my last book.”

(The interview is published in French; we used an Internet program to translate his quotes into English. We asked his publisher, Houghton Mifflin, for confirmation. They reached out to Roth this morning. “He said it was true,” said Lori Glazer, vice president and executive director of publicity.)

Roth said that at 74, realizing he was running out of years, he reread all his favorite novels, and then reread all his books in reverse chronological order. “I wanted to see if I had wasted my time writing,” he said. “And I thought it was rather successful. At the end of his life, the boxer Joe Louis said: “I did the best I could with what I had.” This is exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had.

“And after that, I decided that I was done with fiction. I do not want to read, to write more,” he said. “I have dedicated my life to the novel: I studied, I taught, I wrote and I read. With the exclusion of almost everything else. Enough is enough! I no longer feel this fanaticism to write that I have experienced in my life.”

but the boo boyz are getting to (Z S), Friday, 9 November 2012 17:42 (five years ago) Permalink

as much as it it's a shame, cause a weaker Roth is still better than most writers, i don't think he can reinvent himself again to write a really great book. especially due to the fact that there is some truth to the claim that he writes the same novel again and again.

nostormo, Friday, 9 November 2012 18:35 (five years ago) Permalink

I have very little time for Roth's writing but I really respect this as an artistic decision (and not just because fewer new roth books might mean fewer longfrm pieces about how Important he is).

of course you end up shazaming yourself (c sharp major), Friday, 9 November 2012 18:39 (five years ago) Permalink

I have never objected when an artist announces retirement: it takes courage.

the little prince of inane false binary hype (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 9 November 2012 18:41 (five years ago) Permalink

p.s this things should be taken with a grain of salt of course.
a person who wrote all his life, and books WERE his life, might say one thing, and do something else..

nostormo, Friday, 9 November 2012 18:41 (five years ago) Permalink

If true, I'm glad he bowed out with Nemesis rather than The Humbling.

Deafening silence (DL), Friday, 9 November 2012 18:43 (five years ago) Permalink

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