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Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Books Of Roth

Only three writers have had their work published in the distinguished Library of America series while still alive: Saul Bellow, Eudora Welty and, most recently, Philip Roth. New York Times literary editor Charles McGrath profiles and interviews the 72-year-old reclusive author on the occasion:

On his earlier books, he says: "If you think of 'Goodbye, Columbus,' 'Letting Go,' 'When She Was Good' and 'Portnoy's Complaint,' it's a bit like four different writers, because I didn't know what kind of writer I was. Maybe there are some people who do know, but I didn't. You have to figure out what your strength is, and I had no idea."

On 'Portnoy's Complaint': "So many people of the people who claimed to be offended by the book said they were offended by the masturbation...But that's silly. Everybody knew about masturbation. What they were really offended by was the depiction of this level of brutality in a Jewish family."

Appropriately, McGrath end his piece by hinting at Roth's next work: "At this time of year, Mr. Roth still reads outside in the early evenings, in a tent of mosquito netting, until the daylight fades, and his main vice is then slipping indoors to check on the Yankees for a couple of hours. 'The canonized go on,' he said, adding that he has just about finished a new piece, which he called 'a very long story, 90 pages or so, and very dark.' Pressed to describe it further he said: 'That's it - 90 dark pages.'


  • I've never read Philip Roth and now I want to. Portnoy's Complaint, ah!

    By Anonymous Anirudh, at 4:30 PM  

  • Don't omit 'Goodbye, Columbus'. Or the Zuckerman books. Or 'American Pastoral'. Or...heck, just read 'em all.

    By Blogger PrufrockTwo, at 7:17 PM  

  • "heck, just read 'em all"

    Totally agree. but if you are prioritising, don't miss:

    Sabbath's Theatre
    or the David Kepesh novels (Ghost Writer, Professor of Desire, Dying Animal)

    By Blogger Falstaff, at 8:08 AM  

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