Philip Roth presents a vivid portrait of an innocent man being swept away by a current of conflict and violence in his own backyard - a story that is as much about loving America as it is hating it. Seymour "Swede" Levov, a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, and the prosperous heir of his father's Newark glove factory comes of age in thriving, triumphant postwar America. But everything he loves is lost when the country begins to run amok in the turbulent 1960s. Not even a most private, well-intentioned citizen, it seems, gets to sidestep the sweep of history. American Pastoral is the story of a fortunate American's rise and fall ... a strong, confident man, a master of social equilibrium, overwhelmed by the forces of social disorder. For the Swede is not allowed to stay forever blissful living out life in rural Old Rimrock in his 170 year-old stone farmhouse with his pretty wife (his college sweetheart and Miss New Jersey of 1949) and his lively albeit precocious daughter, the apple of his eye ... that is until she grows up to become a revolutionary terrorist.
In an astonishing feat of empathy and narrative invention, our most ambitious novelist imagines an alternate version of American history. In 1940 Charles A. Lindbergh, heroic aviator and rabid isolationist, is elected president. Shortly thereafter, he negotiates a cordial "understanding" with Adolf Hitler while the new government embarks on a program of folksy anti-Semitism.
"Roth at his worst"
In 1951, the second year of the Korean War, a studious, law-abiding, and intense youngster from Newark, New Jersey, Marcus Messner, begins his sophomore year on the pastoral, conservative campus of Ohio's Winesburg College. And why is he there and not at a local college in Newark where he originally enrolled? Because his father, the sturdy, hardworking neighborhood butcher, seems to have gone mad - mad with fear and apprehension of the dangers of adult life, the dangers of the world, the dangers he sees on every corner for his beloved boy.
"The movie: see IT! Do NOT listen to this..."
Neil Klugman and pretty, spirited Brenda Patimkin - he of poor Newark, she of suburban Short Hills - meet one summer and dive into an affair that is as much about social class and suspicion as it is about love. The novella, the first book published by Philip Roth, explores issues of both class and Jewish assimilation into American culture. It won the National Book Award in 1960.
"Wasn't what I remember"
Once a scandalously inventive puppeteer, Mickey Sabbath at 64 is an aging, raging powerhouse, defiantly antagonistic and exceedingly libidinous. But after the death of his longtime mistress, Sabbath embarks on a turbulent journey into his past.
"A great book by a great writer"
Patrimony, a true story, touches the emotions as strongly as anything Philip Roth has ever written. Roth watches as his 86-year-old father - famous for his vigor, his charm, and his repertoire of Newark recollections - battles with the brain tumor that will kill him. The son, full of love, anxiety, and dread, accompanies his father through each fearful stage of his final ordeal, and, as he does so, discloses the survivalist tenacity that has distinguished his father's long, stubborn engagement with life.
Iron Rinn, born Ira Ringold, is a Newark roughneck, a radio actor, an idealistic Communist, and an educated ditchdigger turned popular performer. A six-foot, six-inch Abe Lincoln lookalike, he emerges from serving in World War II passionately committed to making the world a better place and instead winds up blacklisted, unemployable, and ruined by a brutal personal secret from which he is perpetually in flight.
"American Trilogy's Weakest Link"
Now in his mid-thirties, Nathan Zuckerman, a would-be recluse despite his newfound fame as a best-selling author, ventures onto the streets of Manhattan in the final year of the turbulent 60s. Not only is he assumed by his fans to be his own fictional satyr, Gilbert Carnovsky ("Hey, you do all that stuff in that book?"), he also finds himself the target of admonishers, advisors, and sidewalk literary critics. The recent murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. lead an unsettled Zuckerman to wonder if "target" may be more than a figure of speech.
At its heart lies the marriage of Peter and Maureen Tarnopol, a gifted young writer and the woman who wants to be his muse but who instead is his nemesis. Their union is based on fraud and shored up by moral blackmail, but it is so perversely durable that, long after Maureen’s death, Peter is still trying—and failing—to write his way free of it.
"Disapointing read unfortunately"
At the center of Nemesis is a vigorous, dutiful 23-year-old playground director, Bucky Cantor, a javelin thrower and weightlifter, who is devoted to his charges and disappointed with himself because his weak eyes have excluded him from serving in the war alongside his contemporaries. Focusing on Cantors dilemmas as polio begins to ravage his playground and on the everyday realities he faces, Roth leads us through every inch of emotion such a pestilence can breed.
"Without pathos about life..."
At the center of Deception are two adulterers in their hiding place. He is a middle-aged American writer named Philip, living in London, and she is an articulate, intelligent, well-educated Englishwoman compromised by a humiliating marriage to which, in her 30s, she is already nervously half-resigned. The book's action consists of conversation - mainly the lovers talking to each other before and after making love.
The Counterlife is about people enacting their dreams of renewal and escape, some of them going so far as to risk their lives to alter seemingly irreversible destinies. Wherever they may find themselves, the characters of The Counterlife are tempted unceasingly by the prospect of an alternative existence that can reverse their fate. Illuminating these lives in transition and guiding us through the book's evocative landscapes, familiar and foreign, is the mind of the novelist Nathan Zuckerman.
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. A masterful portrait of one man's inner struggles, Everyman is a brilliant showcase for one of the world's most distinguished novelists.
"Full Frontal Roth"
The Ghost Writer introduces Nathan Zuckerman in the 1950s, a budding writer infatuated with the great books, discovering the contradictory claims of literature and experience while an overnight guest in the secluded New England farmhouse of his idol, E. I. Lonoff. At Lonoff's, Zuckerman meets Amy Bellette, a haunting young woman of indeterminate foreign background who turns out to be a former student of Lonoff's and who may also have been his mistress.
At 40, the writer Nathan Zuckerman comes down with a mysterious affliction - pure pain, beginning in his neck and shoulders, invading his torso, and taking possession of his spirit. Zuckerman, whose work was his life, is unable to write a line. Now his work is trekking from one doctor to another, but none can find a cause for the pain or assuage it. Zuckerman himself wonders if the pain could have been caused by his own books.
What if a look-alike stranger stole your name, usurped your biography, and went about the world pretending to be you? In Operation Shylock, master novelist Philip Roth confronts his double, an impostor whose self-appointed task is to lead the Jews back to Europe from Israel.
"A Jew, a doppelgänger, Israel and the Diaspora"
Philip Roth is the most decorated American writer of his generation. In Exit Ghost, this master author crafts what may be the final chapter in the story of his beloved hero Nathan Zuckerman. After 11 years of isolation in his New England mountain refuge, Zuckerman returns to New York City and makes three important connections that threaten his carefully protected sense of isolation.
"Vintage Roth - powerful"
Philip Roth, one of the best-known and award winning literary masters of our time, engages his readership with insightful and challenging novels of the human condition. With The Dying Animal, he revisits the character David Kepesh. At age 60, Kapesh is drawn out of his carefully ordered existence and into an obsessive affair with one of his students.
As a student in college, David Kepesh styles himself "a rake among scholars, a scholar among rakes." Little does he realize how prophetic this motto will be - or how damning. For as Philip Roth follows Kepesh from the domesticity of childhood into the vast wilderness of erotic possibility, from a ménage a trios in London to the throes of loneliness in New York, he creates a supremely intelligent, affecting, and often hilarious novel about the dilemma of pleasure.
From silly chuckles to rueful ironic glee to deep cosmic laughter, this new volume of humorous tales samples the best of recent seasons of the popular public radio series Selected Shorts.
"Even more laughs than what?"