cover image Goodbye, Columbus: And Five Short Stories

Goodbye, Columbus: And Five Short Stories

Philip Roth. Audio Literature, $30 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7871-1835-8

Following the recent release of Roth's vitriolic novel, I Married a Communist (also produced unabridged from Dove, with Ron Silver reading), it's refreshing to hear his most playful early material revisited. The title novel and accompanying stories are read by a list of top-notch performers. The title story, the coming-of-age tale of Newark's Neil Klugman, is read by John Rubinstein. Set in 1950s America, the idealistic college dropout Klugman spends a summer wooing Brenda Patimkin, an affluent Radcliffe girl from the nearby suburb of Short Hills. Their gentle courtship is disrupted by issues of class, religion and sex. The other stories, which include ""The Conversion of the Jews"" and ""You Can't Tell a Man by the Song He Sings,"" are read by Rubinstein, Jerry Zaks, Harlan Ellison, Elliott Gould and Theodore Bikel. All do a good job of conveying Roth's sardonic humor, which--even in this younger work--has a world-weary, sorrowful weightiness. But the true gift demonstrated here is Roth's amazing deadpan wit, a quality exploited to dramatic ends when read aloud by the adroit veterans employed. (Feb.)