The idea of this blog is to facilitate the love of reading by collecting news about new books, or sometimes good old books. It is also dedicated to stamping out the scourge of e-books, Kindles, Kobo's, i-Pads, and all other such abominations.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Guest blog: Everyman by Philip Roth

This is one of Roth's shortest books and that is one of the best things about it. I have been a devoted fan of Roth's late period, even after slogging through Sabbath's Theatre, but I didn't wish this one to be a page longer. The story, which Roth himself gives away in the first few pages, is about a man who dies, finally. The rest of the book is about all the ailments he had along the way to his final one, which are many. It has the form of one of those nursing home conversations where the inmates show their scars and try to outdo each other with the saga of their many operations. Well this is the story of the champ, the unhealthier of two Jewish brothers, one of who became a succesful business man and the other of whom, the sicko, who became a commercial artist. But you don't hear much about anything artistic; the hero spends all his life labouring in the public relations salt mines planning to someday return to his painting, but when he finally does of course all his inspiration is gone. So is the family he had sacrificed it to support; despite his bad health this guy manages to maintain the record of all Roth heroes for indulging in self-destructve philandery. I don't know what to say about this book. It's like Roth had written about absolutely everything he had to write about except all his ailments, so he decided to do a book on that. I guess the generous view would be that he is trying to show just how hollow life can be in your average middle-class American suburb these days, but it's not a very compelling picture.



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