The Counterlife (18 cents)

Let’s talk about Philip Roth. When I read “Good-bye Columbus”, about 40 years ago, I loved it. I thought it really described reality as I saw it. When I read “Portnoy’s Complaint” a few years later, I didn’t understand it at all, I don’t think; I certainly didn’t like it. It did not describe any reality I was familiar with. And then, I stopped reading Philip Roth.

Until about a year ago, when I started to read “The Plot Against America”, the story of the Lindbergh presidency. I got about half way through and said to myself “what a waste of time”, and put it aside.

But now, we have enrolled in a modern Jewish literature course being given at Georgetown University, and our first book was Philip Roth’s “The Counterlife”. I have to admit that I had no recollection of ever hearing about “The Counterlife”, although perhaps I had. I started the book with no particular expectation. I enjoyed the first section of the book, describing the death of New Jersey dentist Henry Zuckerman after heart surgery, hiding the existence of his mistress/hygienist Wendy and his former mistress Maria from his devoted wife Carol, and the reaction of his more or less estranged surviving brother Nathan. But I was completed thrown for a loop (a good loop), when I read the second section of the book, when I discovered the world was not as it seemed and it kept me going to the end, with its many twists and turns and switches and switchbacks.

I am not going to give anything away here, but recommend this book very highly, and now would like to read more Roth, and especially more of his Zuckerman books.


One thought on “The Counterlife (18 cents)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s