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In this, supposedly the last of the Zuckerman books, the legendary priapism of Mr. Roth, noted in comments on the previous post regarding the book, is once again fully in display, once again to no particular effect and for not particular purpose that I can discern unless it is to unite thanatos and eros in the Freudian clich´ that was ancient when Freud was a baby. Zuckerman, impotent and incontinent from a radical prostatectomy spends the entire book trying to recapture the vigor of youth in the face of decaying faculties.

Problem is, it isn't even remotely touching. It isn't funny, it isn't ironic, mordant, incisive, acute, or even particularly observant. It is, unfortunately, pedestrian--a rehash of Roth from previous years including all of the very worst aspects of his obsessions.

The really terrible part of this is that there is some lovely writing, some moving and beautiful writing. At moments even powerful writing--as when he relates the tale of the Jews who escaped from Oslo to Sweden. But there are plot encumbrances that occupy far more space than they are actually worth in effect and an unfortunate obsession with a writer with a great and mysterious sin in his past. Finally, there is an absolutely incoherent paean to George Plimpton occupying far too much of the last section of the book.

My opinion--give this one a skip and go read the only book Mr. Roth wrote that seems to be relatively free of his obsessions--The Plot Against America, you may not care for the politics--but in that book Roth has many points to make about anti-semitism (as he does in this one) and its present vigor in our society. He raises awareness about important problems without the other spirits he seems so fond of.

NOT recommeded in any way for any one.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 26, 2007 7:40 AM.

The Joy and the Pain of Philip Roth was the previous entry in this blog.

Prayers for My Father-in-Law please is the next entry in this blog.

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