The hero of Everyman is obsessed with mortality. As he reminds himself at one point, "I'm 34! Worry about oblivion when you're 75." But he cannot help himself. He is the ex-husband in three marriages gone wrong. He is the father of two sons who detest him, despite a daughter who adores him. And as his health worsens, he is the envious brother of a much fitter man. A masterful portrait of one man's inner struggles, Everyman is a brilliant showcase for one of the world's most distinguished novelists.
Listen to an interview with Philip Roth on Fresh Air.
©2006 Philip Roth; (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC.
"Roth continues exercising his career-defining, clear-eyed, intelligent vision of how the psychology of families works." (Booklist)
"This is an artful yet surprisingly readable treatise on...well, on being human....Through it all, there's that Rothian voice: pained, angry, arrogant, and deeply, wryly funny." (Publishers Weekly)
"Our most accomplished novelist. . . . [With Everyman] personal tenderness has reached a new intensity." (The New Yorker)
Avid reader of classics and fiction, history and well-written genre novels. Music lover and huge audiobook fan.
This was a pleasure to hear, such an intelligent book. George Guidall's narration profits from the fact that he seems very comfortable and familiar with the text and its meaning as well as a generally pleasant voice.
I love Philip Roth's novels best of all American fiction, and this effort is a touching though short examination of the struggle with our common fate - to be one day full of life and loving life and the next day to die.
This particular struggle to understand his unavoidable fate concerns one man, very much from New Jersey, whose funeral opens the novella. His life and his work are seen through the prism of his relationships to those who attend his funeral. But the book seems (as so many of Roth's books do) as a personal cri de coeur, a struggle to understand illness in a man whose older brother has never been ill and to understand why he is so alone after so much love and passion in the first six decades of his life.
What I love so much about Roth's writing is the depth of his quest to understand how to live via an incredibly rational intelligence and a great feel for the absurd anchored in a time and American place. Not every book is perfect, but they are all better than most. Roth could only have written in America, not anywhere else in the world - his novels are those of immigrants and their succeeding generations and very anchored in the places and time in which he has lived. Perhaps that is what the Swedes say they don't like in Philip Roth's work - I recently read a comment that Americans don't get Nobel prizes because they are too 'narrow'.....but that is what I love about Roth's novels, how they illuminate what is unique about this time and place in America.
His later novels touch me at a level few authors can reach because they ask the most fundamental questions about life and love and fate while addressing our connection to time and place with an affection and an attention to detail that is unique. In 'American Pastoral' his discussion of Newark and the glove industry are like a paean to the artistry and craft of that time. In 'Everymen' he gives the same treatment to the jewelry trade in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He is able to represent the beauties of the world as it was when he grew up without suggesting that the past was better than the present. He pays tribute to the virtues of the past without worshiping it as better than today. He gives a sense for the nature of generations as they recede from the generations of immigrants who came here.
Roth writes of the landscape of his life with such detail and love, it always makes me emotional to talk about why I love his books so much.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
Then this may be the book for you. The prose is great. The characters are sufficiently vivid. The reflections on life are sufficiently profound. The main character's actions and inactions are all sufficiently realistic or appropriately motivated. The whole book is a very thoughtful, well-done examination of what it means to be a human being in today's world. I can even say that I enjoyed the book while I was listening to it. And yet, when it was over, I really had a hard time thinking of a good reason that this book needed to exist. YMMV
Very high; not the best.
The thinking and musing about death not too far away.
He sounded like the main character might sound.
It was disturbing.
It was very very good from a literary standpoint and and it was emotionally moving. It stuck in my mind for a long time. I couldn't stop thinking about it; about impending death and remembrence.
Philip Roth's "Everyman" is as insightful as it is chilling.
From beginning to end, Roth continues (as in previous projects) to unmask the evidently meaninigless notion of purpose and leaves his reader with nothing more than existential deliberation. A truly powerful book, but be warned: altough on occation one might find himself smiling or even savoring a good laugh, you will not come out of this novel with a smile on your face. You will, however, enjoy every minute of it.
Guidall takes Roth's beautifully intricate language to new hights with a truly astounding performance.
As a man in his sixties, I identified with a lot of what happened to the main character. I found the book very interesting, in spite of all the flashbacks to the past. The narrator did a good job, reading the text from the perspective of an older man.
An introspective look into the foibles and joys of a man. His estrangements and attachments. He looks back from the end of life vantage point with regret and sympathy. The book is a downer in that each scene is a hospitalization.
I listened to Everyman as a 48 year old who just starting to notice the accumulating effects of various abuses done to character, body, and mind. The book is honest, and yes, rather stark. Mr. Roth aptly describes life's arc and I am glad to have listened to this reading at this time in my life. As another listener already wrote, this is not a fun story. It provoked serious reflection.
I would give this a 5 except I find the narrator to have a bit of a halting style that distracted me from time to time.
But, the story itself is terrific. It is a bit short, but then, so's life, and that's the point here. (And besides, it was the perfect length for a 5-hour flight yesterday.) The reflections on mortality, life, failure to be the person we expect and hope to be, all of these ideas make this a brilliant listen--one that is close to the bone sometimes.
I will begin by admitting that I am a fan of Roth. I am also willing to admit that only those who appreciate the author will enjoy this book. It lacks the power of American Pastoral and Human Stain(where I would recommend you start) but then again, so do almost all books. It is also brief, which seemed to prevent me from getting too invested in the characters.
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