©1993 Phillip Roth; (P)2009 Phoenix
"A masterpiece." (Newsweek)
"Unlike those of us who come howling into the world, blind and bare, Mr. Roth appears with nails, hair, teeth, speaking coherently. He is skilled, witty, energetic and performs like a virtuoso." (Saul Bellow)
"Superior, startling, incandescently alive." (The New Yorker)
I had fond memories reading this book in high school. For a while now I've wanted to go back and re-read it (err listen) partly to relive some of those feelings but also to remember why it had an impact on me in the first place. I really don't recall many books l from high school impact me, but this one did... I think.
But I just didn't like it the second time around. There were moments I had some emotion: I suspect my good memories were mostly around the passion that Neil and Brenda have as I recall being in a difficult relationship then.
But otherwise it just didn't hit me like it did. Or maybe I just don't remember right. I'm old now.
"There is scarcely any passion without struggle." Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
The winner of the 1960 National Book Award, the title story GOODBYE, COLUMBUS is of the end of love, discovered. It's actually a novella accompanied by 5 nice short stories. The novella is well worth the admission price, a tale of young love between two 20-somethings blending issues of the heart, class and the sexual mores at mid-20th century. It also explores differences among Jews as well as Jewish *assimilation* in the 50's.
I love literary fiction and I occasionally delve into non-fiction. I love books that are suspenseful and am really into well-told stories.
I have read most of Philip Roth's books (my favorites are the Zuckerman books) and I had this one sitting around in my library for a long time. I listened to it yesterday up to the point where the stories started. Then I threw the book in my garbage can.
Goodbye Columbus is just an insipid little story about a loser who can't get with the girls.
And I need to mention how horribly it is read.... This John Rubinstein guy does a Jewish voice serviceably, but that's it. The protagonist isn't well done nor are the many female voices. This guy must be friends with Philip Roth or something because I seriously do not know how else he got the job.
Maybe the director was deaf? That is the only reasonable explanation I can come up with.
The last story in this collection is the comically bad. Extremely overwritten. He describes every single detail of a scene before anything actually happens. Worst of all is the narrator. He actually slows down and faintly whispers when the characters get excited and talk loudly. And the story is from the perspective of an American, juxtaposed with a German Jew, but the whole thing is narrated with a thick accent. Clearly no thought was put into it. Also, it's very long. Even longer than this rant about how awful it is.
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