Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books

Claudia Roth Pierpont. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (384p) ISBN 978-0-3742-8051-2
In 2012, acclaimed novelist Philip Roth famously declared that he was retiring, sending shudders of disbelief through the literary world. Drawing on conversations with Roth and featuring insightful close readings of his entire oeuvre, longtime New Yorker staff writer Pierpont (Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World) offers a dazzling chronicle that traces moments from the author’s life and explores the “life of his art.” Pierpont develops the story of Roth’s writing chronologically, summarizing the plots and critical reception of each of his many novels, from Goodbye, Columbus (1959) to Nemesis (2010). For example, “When She was Good is a book as harsh and plain as the world that Roth depicts.... Roth was no longer standing outside the ‘Americans’ he’d been observing... he was burrowing within them, even if only to discover a resistance to admitting depths.” Pierpont declares Sabbath’s Theater “a masterpiece of twentieth-century American literature: coursing with life, dense with character and wisdom, it gives the deepest experiences we face—dying, remembering, holding on to each other—the startling impact of first knowledge.” Exit Ghost is about the “mystification between young and old,” while Nemesis is about “conscience and duty as much as it is about the randomness of fate.” Her luminous and graceful study achieves what all good criticism should: it drives us to reread Roth’s work anew. Agent: Robert Cornfield, Robert Cornfield Literary Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/2013
Release date: 10/22/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-374-71044-6
Paperback - 353 pages - 978-0-374-53493-6
Hardcover - 368 pages - 978-0-224-09903-5
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