Philip Roth(9 Posts)
Anyone else enjoy/struggle with his novels and interested in discussing?
I'm currently reading American Pastoral and enjoying some of it, but not as much as I enjoyed The Plot Against America and Nemesis. I've read Portnoy's Complaint, which I adore
but which every single other person at my book club hated and about half of I Married a Communist which I found unbearable because of the child hatred.
It's actually the revulsion for children, rather than misogyny, which usually gets to me in Roth. But his writing is like coffee, it makes me feel sick sometimes but it's so strong I can't do without it...
I took American Pastoral on holiday to Namibia- there was literally nothing else to do in the evenings once the zebras had gone to bed and still I found it unreadable.
So I can sympathise but not discuss!
John Updike on the other hand is a never ending source of reading joy. He is magnificent.
Ah, I've finished it now! Probably would have found it harder on holiday in fact, given that it's quite brutal. Some wonderful writing.
I haven't yet managed to finish an Updike . Where should I try again Among?
Well, my personal favourites are Villages and Couples, but that's mostly because they are filth in the guise of literary masterpieces. I also enjoyed Marry Me and The Witches of Eastwick. He published Terrorist a few years ago, which is very different in theme but very engaging.
Have you ever braved David Foster Wallace? I have been told I should but it looks pretty heavy. Currently enjoying A M Holmes. I like American fiction
Is that May We Be Forgiven? I'd not come across her before that - loved it. Although I felt it was more like a very long short story than a novel.
No, haven't tried DFW. There's huge amounts of American fiction that I haven't touched - a good feeling in a way. I'd like to try DeLillo.
I love Roth. What did you think of American pastoral in he end? I loved Portnoys Complaint too. Try Sabbath's Theater, loved that and goodbye, Columbus. Human stain is also a good one. A bit meh about I married a
Communist too. I feel he writes men (or a certain type) well. For other authors, hate Updike (Rabbit books) as I can't stand the alienation. Faulkner, every time. Light in August is one of my all time favourites.
American Pastoral.... at first I disliked it, all the women seemed to be purely about surface (and if not, then hated) in an almost cartoon-like Rothy way. But I got sucked in... found myself wrongfooted, then I fell into the stream and was swept away. I got very muddled at the end but eventually I did enjoy it. It was a struggle to deal with it (not to read) and I kept wanting to know more about Merry, more than the stuff he put in very subtly. I would actually like someone to write the novel again from Merry's point of view to help the hard of thinking like me.
I assume the end with the force feeding did subvert the message of the rest of the book by indicating Lou Levov was much more of a distorting influence than Swede saw him as, but maybe I was only reading what I wanted to read there.
I hesitated as I'd forgotten the exact dtls of the ending. I think it's regarded as one of the great American books of the 20th century and you're right all of his best characters are a bit older than the 60s generation, which fits Roth himself. I'm not sure he could understand Merry's position although he certainly understands rebellion!
American Pastoral is one of my favourite books, but I've never managed to re-read it yet.
De Lillo's Underworld I read around the same time and adored. I love his other stuff but none so much ad Underworld.
Have you read Auster? I'm a big fan of his, but would probably recommend his more straightforward stuff to start with, like Brooklyn Follies and Sunset Park.
Richard Yates a neglected great American writer. Revolutionary Road, of course, but Easter Parade and Young Hearts Crying I loved even more. I think he writes women well.
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