I was initially less enamored with the focus on Jewish-Writer identity, and Zuckerman’s obsession with sex

I was initially less enamored with the focus on Jewish-Writer identity, and Zuckerman’s obsession with sex

I liked all that writing life talk quite a bit. Now, having Roth reflect back on those libidinous years via Zuckerman is a little annoying for me, though this may also just be an effect of my age. This is a common issue in Roth books, though, and can get tiresome, though he can be quite self-deprecatingly funny about it at times, too.

So 1/3 of the way in the book I thought it was a merely good book, well-written, by one of our greatest living writers. And then it really took off, and the dialogue really begins to sing, as it can in the best of Roth’s works! Zuckerman’s writing gets him in conflict with his own family, which makes him initially resentful of his Newark family and his parents’s harping on his responsibility to his Jewish heritage.

Then the identity of a (Jewish) woman who is a guest in the Lonoff home turns him around again, making him question anew issues of the responsibility of the writer to his writing, to life, family, and cultural identity. I’m not going to say anything specific about that woman, but it is a surprising and wonderful turn of events that elevates the novel to a new level. In the end I very much liked it. Yeah, I was seduced by Roth, and Zuckerman. A great start to the series and surely one of the best books of one of the best American authors.

It is hard to engage some of the more specific reasons WHY I loved this book — without giving away some of the more the dramatic elements

How did this not win the Pulitzer? How has Roth not won a Nobel? This was one of the most brilliant works of art I’ve ever encountered. Far and away, the best book I’ve read all year.

Early on when I read him I loved his funny college-age lust stories in works such as Portnoy’s Complaint and Goodbye Columbus and Other Stories

This is the type of book I always hope to encounter when I read fiction. Beautiful sentences, powerful dialogue, the kind of character tension that causes a reader to nearly explode. There were times I couldn’t believe I was reading. It felt as if I were deposited into a farmhouse in the Berkshires, observing from Lonoff’s American mantelpiece. Philip Roth does this with an almost perfect mastery of language.

What’s especially intriguing is that, from what I’ve read, Roth has sort of morphed into a Lonoff-type in the last few decades. His alter ego in this book, the young Nathan Zuckerman, was enamored by Lonoff’s work and wanted more than anything to know the artist. Lonoff is based on Malamud or Henry Roth, presumably, and in this novel, Zuckerman (Roth) seemed to be accepting the torch as the new great American novelist. Yet, now, as we look at the recently retired Roth’s own life and history, the young apprentice has become the Lonoff. Life imitating art or art becoming life.

This is only my second Roth, but if they’re all like this, I have at long last found my favorite writer.

“I know the kind of man I am and the kind of writer. I have my own kind of bravery, and please, let’s leave it at that.” kissbrides.com you can find out more ? Philip Roth, The Ghost Writer

I’ve read a ton of Roth, but have yet to really engage the Zuckerman series. The Ghost Writer is book one in the four book cycle Zuckerman Bound:

However, within that constraint I CAN say I loved how Roth explores both what it means to be a Jewish writer (with all the expectations that come with that occupation in a post-holocaust world) and what it means to be a fiction writer period. How art reflects life and life is impacted by the work and the flow of art. There are few living writers whose output I respect more than Philip Roth, and while I don’t think his 80s novels stand up entirely to later novels, he is still stretching the limits of prose and dangling ideas and situations that are both entertaining and almost absurd.