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Philip Roth fans

Discussion in 'Author Discussion' started by joderu95, Apr 10, 2008.

  1. joderu95

    joderu95 New Member

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    I read American Pastoral a couple months ago and I would like to hear from people who have read multiple Roth novels. What I want to know is what book would be a good one to introduce yourself to the author's work and why? I'd like to hear any synopses (keep them brief) on any books of his you have read as well.
     
  2. Stewart

    Stewart Active Member

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    I'm currently on a mission to read all of Roth's books and I read my first one last month, which was Goodbye, Columbus. I'll be reading them chronologically as it means I'll be able to watch him grow as a writer. I've pretty much got all his books - just missing about five. But if you are going to start, where else but the beginning?
     
  3. joderu95

    joderu95 New Member

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    No thanks. I am not looking to read everything he has ever written, just a nice little selection (three to five books maybe) that gives you a good impression of his style. There are very few authors I would be interested in enough to read everything they've written. The ones I read the most about are Portnoy's Complaint, Operation Shylock: A Confession, Sabbath's Theater and Everyman. Reading them in chronological order in terms of when they are published could give you an idea of his growth so long as they were written in that order too, but this is not always the case.
     
  4. Stewart

    Stewart Active Member

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    I would still recommend Goodbye, Columbus as it's a great work. There's quite a bit to it, even if it just scrapes past the hundred page mark. But I suppose Portnoy's Complaint, Sabbath's Theater, American Pastoral, The Human Stain, and Operation Shylock are his five big hitters. I'm leaving out The Ghost Writer, Zuckerman Unbound, The Anatomy Lesson, The Prague Orgy, and Exit Ghost since these are Zuckerman books and a series in themselves and you only want to read four or five.

    The 1,001 Books To Read Before You Die book suggests the following six: The Plot Against America, The Breast, American Pastoral, Sabbath's Theater, Operation Shylock, Portnoy's Complaint. The Breast, however, is about seventy pages and is the first of the Kepesh trilogy, which means that if you remove it, it's the same five books I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
     
  5. joderu95

    joderu95 New Member

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    Ok, maybe I'll try some of those. Thanks.
     
  6. erin1980

    erin1980 New Member

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    Portnoy's complaint is my favoirte Roth book. It's about sexuality. His desire for his mother, his desire to dominate and posses women, so while it's funny it's not for every one.

    Zuckerman is roth's alter-ego. The books where Zuckerman is the main character are
    Ghost Writer
    Zuckerman unbound
    Anatomy lesson
    Prague Orgy
    Counterlife
    American Pastoral
    I married a commie
    Human Stain
    Exit Ghost
    These books follow Zuckerman from college graduation to death.

    The new york times puts 6 of Roth's books in the top books of the past 25 years:
    American Pastoral
    The counterlife
    Operation Shylock
    Sabbath's Theatre
    The Human Stain
    The plot against america
    I trust the NY Times and they never dissapoint me with their recomendations.

    I plan on working my way through the Zuckerman Sieries. I've only read Ghost Writer so far. I think I'm too young still to appreciate American Pastoral, which is his most acclaimed. I cant relate to the mid life, hate my wife, hate my kids, hate my job stuff since I'm single and childless.
     
  7. Phlebas

    Phlebas New Member

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    Currently Reading:
    Paradise Lost - Milton
    Of the ones I've read I'd suggest American Pastoral had the biggest impact on me.
     
  8. joderu95

    joderu95 New Member

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    Thanks for all the information. Don't misunderstand American Pastoral though because it's more about a really likeable character who very much loves his family and friends and has the perceived ideal life (ergo the book's title) except for the inexplicable way his daughter turns out and something she does that causes him extreme pain.
     
  9. jenmcd

    jenmcd New Member

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    Currently Reading:
    Day by A.L. Kennedy
    I have only read two - Portnoy's Complaint (very good but possibly more appealing to men) and The Plot Against America (loved it). I buy most of my books in charity shops and have a couple more Roth's on my TBR pile. After The Plot... am saving them for a special treat.
     
  10. saliotthomas

    saliotthomas New Member

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    I just finished Patrimony,a non fiction about the illness and death of his father.It is one of those book that come to you at certain times in your life. They help you put words on what you feel,on your fears about the one you love the most.Roth being the great writer he is shape and describe this moments with perfect simplicity and humanity.The horror of age,death,of being trapped in a old body with a mind ready to do it all over again.
    A truly great book for those with aging parents,a darck comedy.
     
  11. SFG75

    SFG75 Well-Known Member

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    Currently Reading:
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    Absolutely loved Plot Against America, very prescient given the current state of American politics. Any similarity is purely coincidentail according to him. American Pastoral was also an excellent book, a great Mencken like novel that exposed the radical excess of the silly '60s. I think he tried to go for the macabre in Everyman, but it didn't work out too well, definitely not one of his betterworks. His political satire is poor as well in One of Ours, a parody of the Nixon administration.
     
  12. SFG75

    SFG75 Well-Known Member

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    Currently Reading:
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    Just picked up Portney's Complaint. Will start it tonight, it looks like it will be a good read.:rolleyes:
     
  13. ewomack

    ewomack Member

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    I don't know!!!! Yet...
    I enjoyed Everyman though it wasn't exactly a life-affirming romp. It traces a nameless man's illnesses. The times in his life of good health get reduced to only a sentence or two. Not an upper, but a very good read nonetheless.
     
  14. SFG75

    SFG75 Well-Known Member

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    I'd have to say that Roth's talents when it comes to satire are somewhat mixed. One of Ours was flat and it should've been a greater work than it was, given the target was Richard Nixon.:D The book was a flub in my opinion as it didn't have the zingers to make you laugh as you were reading. At the same time, I will say that Portnoy's Complaint is a real winner. I'm about half way through it and it just keeps you in stitches the whole time. If you are a student of psychology, you can definitely appreciate the domineering mother adn the constipated, weak father who is an embarrassment to his son. The son even knows the father has no idea what he talks about when he sees dad grab the baseball bat wrong, always on the toilet and being nagged at by his wfie, as well as his own personal angst over growing up and being under mom's thumb. The relationship with the mother and his blunted sexuality gives a great Oedipal subtext that is just hilarious. Bravo Mr. Roth!!
     
  15. a lost weekend

    a lost weekend kickbox

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    I have (somewhat) mixed feelings towards Mr. Roth, due - mostly - to the enormous (i.e. overwhelming) number of books the man has written (and continues to write; a new novel is already slated for a September publication date). This complaint, you might argue, is something of a quibble, however I don't always find a multitudinous number of published works to be a sign of quality in a writer (this self-same complaint applies to John Updike also).

    That said, however, I do enjoy much of Roth's fiction. Everyman was very good, as was Goodbye Columbus and the first, second and (to lesser extent) the fourth part of The Ghost Writer (the third part, with all that nonsense about Anne Frank, was not so great).
     
  16. Stewart

    Stewart Active Member

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    Oh, it's certainly not. But, after a lull in the eighties and early nineties, he seems to have hit his stride with American Pastoral and hasn't looked back since.

    And yes, his twenty-ninth novel, Indignation, is due out later this year.
     
  17. a lost weekend

    a lost weekend kickbox

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    Twenty-ninth! And I hear there's a 30 on the way (perhaps he will title it Roth 30). To think that the reputation of certain great writers rests solely on a single or couple of books that, by the way, were not easily published (i.e. Joyce, Proust, Flaubert).
     
  18. WoundedThorns

    WoundedThorns New Member

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    Currently Reading:
    Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes"
    I've only read The Plot Against America and expected it to be in more of the style of Vonnegut. However, the fact that it was realistic and plausible made it better.
     
  19. Migey

    Migey New Member

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    ive never heard of this guy
     
  20. beer good

    beer good Well-Known Member

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    Now you have. Go read him.
     

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