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)
Audible Member Since 2003
This is a powerful book. If you are looking for a happy ending, denouement, or epiphany – look elsewhere. Right off the bat this book begins at the end, the funeral of the main, nameless character. So there are no illusions about how the story ends. But that’s really the point, because that is how the story ends for every human. Says the author, ‘old age isn’t a war- it’s a massacre.’
In a short space the back-story is filled in; from the main character’s childhood, his loving, Jewish parents, his doting big brother to his three failed marriages, his career uncertainty, his selfless daughter and estranged sons. Throughout, his medical history is detailed, along with his hypochondriacal dread. All of this is related in perfect Philip Roth unflinching fashion. And if this sounds dry, it is anything but. Roth skillfully lays bare the humanity of each character in only the way this author can.
This book will make the listener look at his or hers own life and mortality and I must say that it impacted me as strongly as any novel in recent history.
As with all Roth’s novels one can’t help but wonder that some of the material is autobiographical. Just how much is or isn’t makes no matter, because it could be universally autobiographical… for every man and woman.
I am giving this book a hefty four stars just because the writing level is Philiip Roth delivering his usual consistent quality, his facility with language much in evidence, his brilliance in targeted metaphor, and his characters meticulously drawn and never cliched. And he is one of our national literary treasures, along with Updike, Charles Frazier ("Cold Mountain") and Anne Tyler. There are other writers I've missed, but, contrary to belief in some circles, literature seems to be thriving as our national art form at the moment. Not that we always need a national art form, but I disagree that "the novel is dead".
Roth also gets special points for taking an "everystory" in which nothing unusual happens, a plot that unfolds day in and day out in lives across the country and all over the world, and turning it into a narrative with magnetic appeal and drama in detail. Isn't that what writing is about, really, the small everyday details?
But the story suffers from the narrrator's contribution. I respect Guidall's vast experience as an interpreter of audiobooks but in this case he just doesn't forge that critical bond with Roth. Throwing lines away, muttering like a sixtysomething curmudgeon himself, he removes any possible intimacy with the story and with its characters.
It compares negatively to the sensitive reading of Roth's "The Human Stain" by Arliss Howard, in which his rendering of lyrical phrases gave me chills and was the equivalent of listening to a musical work as significant as Handel's "Messiah" for example.
Instead of portraying a sensitive man dealing with the everyday challenges of a pedestrian life, Guidall gives us an oldish fuddy-duddy, sounding much like the aging, annoying uncle who appears at holiday dinners. Ergo four stars, not five.
As one of America's preeminent writer's, Philip Roth sets the standard for depth and insight in his novels, and "Everyman" is a worthy addition to his canon. Without judgement or irony, Roth takes us into life's struggle with demons and angels. Roth unfolds, not so much a story, as an observation, capturing the pain of life in such of peace, if not happiness. Whether this speaks to the universal human condition I cannot say, but as a someone who walks with those who are struggling with their live's meanings, I can say that Roth gives something to reflect upon with every turn of the page. This should be required reading.
George Guidall is an excellent reader for Roth's novella -- unlike many other readers, he doesn't overact, and simply gets out of the way of Roth's prose. Recommended.
I joined mission Audible in April 1997, contributed in some small way to its growth and maturity, and left at the end of 2012.
Roth has written yet another brilliantly full-blooded character in this engrossing story of a man at the end of his life. Examining his own history, his family, his friends and his choices the protagonist is revealed as flawed and vibrantly real person. Who isn't. This is great writing, great literature and the story is filled with tension and release, making ita terrific listening experience. Highly recommended.
A very important writer, but the book leaves a bit to be desired. I thought more about the book after I finished it, thoughts of mortality and what we are all doing about it, so in that sense perhaps it was better than I rated it.
This book reminded me of Tolstoy's, The Death of Ivan Ilyich. It brings you face to face with how you live your life, what the trajectory of your life should be from the perspective of live's inevitable passing. The book forces you to examine those aspects of your life that you may not be proud of, and helps show you the potential consequences of risky living.
I replayed certain scenes in this book several times, and the messages that I took from it have stayed with me now for many months.
This is not a feel-good book at all, but one that will make you think, examine, and question.
Listen to the sample and be a fan of Roth before getting this book. I gave it one hour and could not get into it and found it very depressing and drab.
The book traces a lifetime through familial relationships, and the topics of vitality, age, and death are narrated expertly by Guidall. The book made me think about the topics, but wasn't overly philosophical, and in some parts the poetic language was what I was most impressed with. A fine audio book, but not incredibly remarkable.
"Vintage Roth, slow, sensitive, moving"
Beautifully written story published in 2006 about life, death, family, loyalty, illness, and more. Loving descriptions of family relationships, adultery and disloyalty, truth and trust. Especially moving segments on hospitals and doctors, friends, death and the Jewish cemetery and funeral service. The terrible thud of the first clods of soil placed on the wooden coffin by the close family members is accurately and beautifully described.
Days before the narrator's death, he places $100 in the hand of a black grave-digger, thanks him for being so dedicated and taking such care over his important work, as well as caring for the graves he had dug earlier for his parents.He recounts a frequent comment of his father's - "Better to give with a warm hand".
Four hours of transportation into the family, mind, home and challenges of Middle-American secular Jewish ageing lives, preparing for and the inevitability of death.
"An eye that hath kept watch o'er man's mortality"
This is a sombre, powerful novel,a moving portrayal of how, an ordinary, flawed man -hence Everyman - faces death. Enjoyment would perhaps not be the appropriae word for such a theme but I found this novel a gripping and worthwhile experience. Roth is a most skilful writer and the reading by George Guidall is finely judged.Compelling listening - if you are prepared to think about your own mortality.
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