Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
There is no doubt that Roth has secured a place for himself in American literary history, and this book will do nothing to jeopardize that place. Roth provides an anecdotal journey through five stages of his life: his New Jersey youth; his college days at Bucknell; meeting his wife-to-be while an instructor at the University of Chicago; his early writing days, including the uproar he caused in the Jewish community; and his life in the Sixties. Roth may have written ``the facts,'' but they are not the complete facts. The work is episodic, sketchy, and sometimes self-indulgent (as such books as this can be), but an offering from one like Roth belongs in libraries. John Budd, Graduate Lib. Sch., Univ. of Arizona, Tucson (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This surprising book recounts Roth's life from early childhood to the publication of Portnoy's Complaint (CH, Jun' 69). It will prove enticing and useful to readers and critics of Roth's work, illuminating the biographical facts that form the genesis of such fictions as The Counterlife (CH, May' 87). The author begins with eloquence and perception in an effort to explain himself to himself after a physical illness and consequent depression that "carried me right to the edge of emotional and mental dissolution." Much of the book focuses on the details of Roth's disastrous early marriage, a relationship hitherto shrouded in mystery and treated tangentially and tantalizingly in his novels. Yet Roth's candor is limited. As he himself admits in the "letters" between himself and his fictional surrogate Nathan Zuckerman, which open and close the book, much is omitted or glossed over. In this epistolary exchange, Roth returns to the arch, self-reflexive techniques of his fiction, giving artistic shape to the work, but simultaneously making the reader aware of how much of the author's life remains concealed. This book fascinates and frustrates, but it is a significant literary event, and it belongs in every academic library. -B. H. Leeds, Central Connecticut State University
Author notes provided by Syndetics
Philip Milton Roth was born in Newark, New Jersey on March 19, 1933. He attended Rutgers University for one year before transferring to Bucknell University where he completed a B.A. in English with highest honors in 1954. He received an M.A. from the University of Chicago in 1955. <p> His first book, Goodbye, Columbus, received the National Book Award in 1960. His other books include Letting Go, When She Was Good, Portnoy's Complaint, My Life as a Man, The Ghostwriter, Zuckerman Unbound, I Married a Communist, The Plot Against America, The Facts, The Anatomy Lesson, Exit Ghost, Deception, Nemesis, Everyman, Indignation, and The Humbling. He won the National Book Critic Circle Awards in 1987 for his novel The Counterlife and in 1992 for his memoir Patrimony: A True Story. He won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 1993 for Operation Shylock: A Confession and in 2001 for The Human Stain, the National Book Award in 1995 for Sabbath's Theater, and the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for American Pastoral. He stopped writing in 2010. He died from congestive heart failure on May 22, 2018 at the age of 85. <p> (Bowker Author Biography)