31.8.10

Where to start with Philip Roth?

Wyatt Mason praises the first of the Nathan Zuckerman novels
A good place to begin? Philip Roth's The Ghost Writer
Wyatt Mason writes a retrospective review of Philip Roth's The Ghost Writer, the novel that introduced the world to Nathan Zuckerman:
With all twenty-eight of Philip Roth’s books in print, a reader not yet initiated into the pleasures of reading his fiction is faced with the tricky task of determining where to begin. Despite a reputation for monomaniacal attention to fixed themes—sex; women; writers; writing; Jews; Israel—Roth has exhibited such formal variety from book to book that where you choose to jump in can create very different impressions of Roth’s novelistic nature: it would be difficult to gather three more different novels by a single author than Letting Go, The Breast, and The Counterlife.

Although one might resort to—and could do very much worse than—setting aside a month and reading through all of Roth’s books in chronological order, few readers would have the space in their schedules even if they had the disposition. In the interest of serving a time lean on time, I submit that the best first book of Roth’s to read (or reread) is his tenth, short, and perfect novel, The Ghost Writer. [Read More]

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