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Thread: How does Philip Roth do it??

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Default How does Philip Roth do it??

    Psst: You know how Philip Roth does it?
    Peter Mehlman
    MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2005


    SANTA MONICA, California Not to cast aspersions but, with all the furor over performance-enhancing drugs, it's remarkable that Philip Roth's name hasn't surfaced.

    Just last week the baseball player Rafael Palmeiro avoided perjury charges, but his career achievements have been irreparably tarnished. Not so Roth. In fact, since turning 60, an age when most renowned writers start having trouble making stuff up, Roth has written, arguably, four of his finest novels.

    Is he juiced or merely the beneficiary of superior genes? No one can - or will - say for sure.

    However, as Roth closes in on several of Dostoevsky's records, whispers are circulating through the literary community. One writer, who requested anonymity to avoid seeming cranky, whispered, "Since I came out with 'Bonfire of the Vanities,' I've written two novels. Roth has churned out, what, 12? Do the math."

    Roth's bulked-up output is not the only factor raising eyebrows. Most notably, his sentence structure has shown no signs of the usual age-related deterioration cited in medical literature.

    At 64, some eight to 10 years after most writers betray noticeable passive voice, Roth completed his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "American Pastoral" (1997). One of the book's astonishing sentences began with the words, "Only after strudel and coffee," and ended nearly a full page later without even one dangling modifier.

    No less a talent than James Joyce (in one of his more piquant observations) said: "By the age of 45, I knew I could no longer start a sentence with a mention of strudel. My fingers would want to do it but my mind just wouldn't react."

    In addition, Roth's continued graphic depiction of, and obsession with, sexuality is seen by some as another indicator that he may be doping. Even D.H. Lawrence, by the age of 42, tended to write less about sex and more about supper. Yet, Roth's "Sabbath's Theater" (1995) and "The Dying Animal" (2001) were rife with carnal observations usually associated with novelists freshly called up from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

    Roth's defenders point out that he lives in an age of superior mental conditioning, allowing him to extend his productive years well beyond those of Cervantes or the Grimm Brothers.

    In addition, Roth has never fallen into the kinds of traps that have cut short the careers of others. He has displayed none of the draining machismo of Norman Mailer. He is never haunted by his childhood like Eugene "the Real Deal" O'Neill. He has no reputation for the late-night carousing favored by the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Truman Capote.

    Finally, technology in the form of "spell checker" and the "light bulb" have given Roth an advantage over, say, Rousseau. Some feel it would be foolish of him to forgo such labor-saving devices simply to maintain fair comparisons to the early romantic.

    "Writing is hard," said one famously blocked author, who requested anonymity in order to keep her publisher believing she died 12 years ago. "You look for any edge you can get."

    And yet, the dull hum of innuendo may become an annoying hum as volumes of Roth's work are reprinted by the prestigious Library of America.

    In an irony befitting the writings of O. Henry and Jose Canseco, much of the criticism for this controversy could ultimately land at the feet of that august imprint, whose testing has been so notably lax that Hunter Thompson repeatedly came up clean.

    Thus far, Roth has been spared the kind of public denials to which we've grown accustomed. When a bottle of Allegorical Growth Hormone turned up in a Nebraska junior high school creative writing class, Roth was almost conspicuously not asked to comment on his status as a role model.

    In short, Philip Roth simply lets his writing speak for itself. As one literary agent said: "You can dope me up all day and I ain't going to write 'Good-bye Columbus.' So when the time comes, I, for one, will write in Philip Roth for the Time magazine 100 Best Authors issue."



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Copyright 2005 The International Herald Tribune | www.iht.com
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    Elite Member sophie's Avatar
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    I LOVE Roth...i didnt expect to find it posted on this site though....i've read like six of his novels, and im constantly blown away. hes definitley the greatest writer or our, and his generation, but that goes without saying. love the man......for some reason i thought he was younger though.
    "I'll probably just end up in some seedy bar with some seedy blonde"-some random Englishman

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    Elite Member MarieAntoinette's Avatar
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    American pastoral was so amazing, I couldn't put it down.

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    Elite Member Chilly Willy's Avatar
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    So what? As the literary agent said, there's not enough dope in the world to make me write like Roth.

    Whatever it takes to unleash the genius, right?

    The funniest thing about this article: Tom Wolfe ("one writer" ) complaining about it. Tom Wolfe of all people!!!!!!!!!!!!! He wishes he was just on dope!

    I thought artists were supposed to be on drugs. There's no literary doping agency.

    Go, Philip Roth, I love you!

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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    This article's pretty damn funny! Literary doping! It should've been in The Onion, can't believe it was in a regular paper.

    I've only heard of Philip Roth, never read his books, but it looks like now I'm gonna have to check him out. What's his style like, and what do his books tend to be about? Why do you guys like him?

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    His books are about Newark, Jews, family...and alot of other things, although those three tend to crop up no matter what. Try Portnoy's Complaint or I Married a Communist...those are two of my faves.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    Elite Member Chilly Willy's Avatar
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    American Pastoral and Human Stain, my favorites.
    Hello mother fucker! when you ask a question read also the answer instead of asking another question on an answer who already contain the answer of your next question!
    -Bugdoll-



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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    i love 'i married a communist'. i've only read a few roth books, i keep meaning to read more.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Loved American Pastoral but am still partial to My Life as a Man, as well as Communist and Portnoy. Actually, there are so many I love. Our Gang is a great piss-take on Tricky Dick Nixon.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    Hit By Ban Bus! pacific breeze's Avatar
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    I love Jackie Susann's quotation about Roth: "He's a good writer but I don't know if I'd want to shake hands with him."

    Yes, he's a good writer, but I find him relentlessly misogynistic, and always have.

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Yes, Jackie Susanne was the epitome of good taste and elegance.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    Okay, so I went to the bookstore and checked out some of his books. I leafed through American Pastoral and the subject matter didn't spark my interest. I forget what the Human Stain is about now, but it didn't flip my skirt at the store either.

    I chose Sabbath's Theater because it started out with sex right away (I know I have a gutter brain, what can I say?) It's alright, I'm not very far along into it yet, sort of hard to stay interested in even given the sexual content. Has anyone else read this book? If so, what was your opinion on it and how did it compare with his other books everyone loves?

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    Elite Member Chilly Willy's Avatar
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    ^^ When I read the first 20 pages of American Pastoral I almost fell asleep. Boy, was I wrong.
    Hello mother fucker! when you ask a question read also the answer instead of asking another question on an answer who already contain the answer of your next question!
    -Bugdoll-



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    I'd say Sabbath's Theater, despite the rave reviews, is not my favorite. It's good but not his best. I'm an ametuer expert on this guy and my faves are, in no particular order, Portnoy's Complaint, I married a Communist, My Life as a Man, Zuckerman Bound, The Facts, American Pastoral. American Pastoral is amazing in its sweep, its subject matter, its unique take on a still contentious era in American history. Love it.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    Elite Member sophie's Avatar
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    you guys never read "The Plot Against America".....wow, your totally missing out. "American Pastoral" is considered his greatest work, Beeyotch, so i guess you could start there. "....Plot" is next then "The Human Stain". The're all positivly enjoyable.
    "I'll probably just end up in some seedy bar with some seedy blonde"-some random Englishman

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