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'The Facts' is a quick read and goes a long way in illustrating how a nice Jewish boy from a good family in the suburbs of New Jersey could find enough angst in his life to eventually line his desk with a Pulitzer Prize, two PEN/Faulkner Awards, and a National Book Award. I would recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed anything by this master of the literary realm. (If you haven't yet read any of his novels, try Portnoy's Complaint, American Pastoral, or Goodbye Columbus... but you really can't go wrong, everything he's written is terrific.)
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Just bought it for my father for father's day.
The most moving of scenes which will touch anyone who has lost a loved one is the trip to the Mother graveside. Ultimately no matter how you behave during the visit; if you talk to the deceased, weed the plot or whatever, you walk away the same as you came in...alone... to paraphrase Roth. This an other flashes of the master make this and all Roth novels worth reading over and over.
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This theme is woven into each of the novel's five chapters, which are authored in first-person narrative by the fictional writer Nathan Zuckerman. Zuckerman defines identity by weighing secularity against religious fervor, masculinity against femininity, potency against impotency, and Jewish awareness against anti-Semitism.
While the novel is set in Zuckerman's fictional world, the chapters each tell separate stories. The situations Zuckerman creates vary, and thus three forms of Jewish identity between which he seems to be caught are examined. Zuckerman experiences the identities of the secular son of traditional Jewish parents, of being a militant Jew's brother, and of the son-in-law grappling with his mother-in-law's anti-Semitism which causes the failure of yet another attempt at family life.
Similar themes can be identified in Roth's other works, such as Goodbye, Columbus and Portnoy's Complaint. However, the post-modern structure of The Counterlife allows for their juxtaposition within one novel, thereby offering the reader a spectrum of the protagonist's issues of identity.
Roth's prose is explicit, witty, and even funny, making the novel a truely enjoyable and engaging read. In the interest of authenticity, he does not recoil from using obscenities. He mocks Jewish-American militancy and pseudo-religiosity by the creation of Ben-Joseph, the author of the "Five Books of Jimmy," who really misses baseball in Israel and later hijacks an El Al plane for hopeless ends.
Nevertheless, Roth does not lose sight of the danger inherent in this militancy. Zuckerman finds his brother's carrying a gun alarming. He detects a loss of "Henry's [his brother's] Henriness," and wonders whether Henry has "developed, postoperatively, a taste for the ersatz in life".
A well-rounded novel, and certainly a must for those interested in Jewish-American writing.
I encountered Philip Roth's genius of intellect and understanding of social behavior by way of "The Counterlife", actually the unique of his titles I read. Moreover, I admit, the finest publication I have obtained.
Roth enchants with utterly well endowed vocabulary and prose. In addition, simultaneously conveying completely dissimilar philosophical perceptions, religious attachments, and life experiences. Line by line he describes Jewish people, in particular, The American Diaspora characteristics.
Seems as if Roth desire is to convey ideas about Jewish Secularism: American Jewish in particular.
He attains this by positioning side by side the extremes: Diaspora's Secularism against Zionism, meaning of real Jewish beliefs to American's or European's Anti-Semitism,ethnically self contemp against ethnic,and a lot more.Actually he tricks the reader. He leads one to think is only a Jewish title.
He is a universal writer. Everything told applies to theso well known compulsion into stereotipizing all people into this or that psychological category. This is universal. It relates to whites, Afro-Americans, Catholics, Hispanics, etc. It is a world tendency. Even to me, native of a country were prejudice does not go further that the semantics, since we are all creatures of a cocktail of very distinct groups of society.
The more one tries to hide what one is, the more propensity one is to fall into the stereotipized world. Using the Jewish example, the more secular Nathan, amid his principal characters, the more he says not to be observant, the more it bothers him to have a son uncircumsized. The Brit Mila has to be perfect. Moreover, the Bar Mitzva grandiose, even if the kid doesn't comprehend anything.
Isn't it right that there is an abnormal tendency to cataloguize us all into Freudian or not Freudian misbehabiour, self compulsion is universal in late generations.
I am certain the hint to the success of antidepressants around, all self compulsive persons, with thousands of drugs claiming to be the panaceas for us all is actually self hatred. Does not the media blinds or Brian-washes us to be perfect, beautiful, sexual, virile, thin, etc.
No wonder each and all of us desires to escape, and that is what "The Counterlife" brings us in each of his five chapters, escapism from reality.
Philip Roth employs sarcasm, irony, jokes, satire, euphemisms, and all grabbed to conceive this important peace of literature, That has to be read more than once. It owns magnetism and Excellency. I recommend it an open and honest hearth.
Excellent Piece of Literature, If it could be I would put Ten. Excellent read for anyone, and also for the price since one gets enchanted by this title. Buy it. It is also worth the money.
I have already become a fan of Roth, he has utterly beguiled me, I have got to get all his titles.
Don't miss Roth's other novels if you like this one. I also recommend Dawn Powell's *The Golden Spur*, Simon Raven's *Alms For Oblivion* series, Sandor Marai's *Embers*, the poetry of Philip Larkin and Paul Theroux's *Kowloon Tong*. And all of Shakespeare, Dickens and Austen.
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