For many years I have avoided reading Philip Roth. His early books seemed to be whiny and obsessed with sex in a way that possibly was new in the 1960 but is now ho-hum. It seemed to me I could spend my time reading authors who are more interesting. But Roth has persevered and keep getting awards. And a friend whose taste I generally respect likes him and thought I should be more open minded.
So when Everyman was recently remaindered by Dedalus Books I bought it and have just read it and I have not changed my mind. He's still whining. He's writing about a very narrow man who has extreme physical problems and seems unaware that advanced peritonitis surely has such serious symptoms that only a moron would ignore them to near death -- likewise the effects of heart disease so severe it requires quadruple by surgery. I cannot believe or care about his main charater who is lead by his inability to stay in love with a loving woman and goes off with a stupid much younger one. To read a lot of fiction written by Jewish authors of the late 20ths century it seems no man is able to see a woman as a full human being and is a slave to his penis. Sorry guys. I don't believe it. I am beginning to thinl that Jewish men may have stronger sex drives and less good sense about women than men of other ethnic groups -- maybe it's a tribal [race is the wrong word, we're told] thing that has made it possible for Jews to continue as an ethnic group for some 3,000 years of general persecution.
But I don't think that's what Roth is writing about. He's got an old man who gets what he deserves at the end of his life, loneliness, boredom, and despair. I don't like this character, I don't empathize with him and I don't learn anything from him as he didn't learn anything from life. I wasted part of three or four evenings reading the book and will pay attention to my gut feelings about such authors in the future.
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