Looking to get into Philip Roth? Not sure where to start in the perennial Nobel favorite’s massive ouevre? Thankfully, the novelist Gabriel Roth is here, swooping in with the only guide you’ll ever need. He explains why Portnoy’s Complaint made the splash it did, why Goodbye, Columbus put Roth on the map, and why the character of David Kepesh is critical to understanding Roth’s legacy. Related: Keith Meatto picks out ten lessons from the author’s work.
“And, it really means so much to us to watch our birds fly out of the high school nest and into an income bracket that could really benefit the Annual Fund this year. I mean, we have 85% of our goal, but as you know, that’s only a B. And we know that you are an A student.” Ah, what a heartwarming and totally genuine letter from my private, nonprofit high school congratulating me on my new job. Thanks, McSweeney’s.
They’ve called him a sports icon, a “national nightmare,” an author, and a punchline. They’ve questioned the backlash against him, and tracked his particular brand of “muscular Christianity.” Coincidental religious symbolism has been noted. Yet so far nothing has come close to genius of Jimmy Fallon’s rendition of Tim Tebow as… TeBowie.
“Sometimes I fear that Midwestern authors are seen from a similar vantage point: that many of us are ‘fly-over writers’ to whom readers wave (or just ignore completely) as they make their way to Saul Bellow and Stuart Dybek and Marilynne Robinson. I fear that these bigger names, along with a few others (Charles Baxter, Lorrie Moore), are seen as exceptions to the general rule that little of cultural worth grows in this flat, middle stretch of the country.” On the plight of the literary Midwesterner.
Recommended Reading: Anne Boyd Rioux on J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee and the private lives of writers.