Friday, July 14, 2006

Philip Roth

The Human Stain. Books that deal with the touchy subject of race always- oh yeah - sorry Bredon - I'll introduce the book first:
This is a book about a disgraced east-coast professor of classical literature, Coleman Silk. It's narrated by an author who is largely an observer and interpreter (a la Nick Carraway), a neighbor who befriends the professor. The story's set in 1998 at the height of the big blow job scandal (repeatedly mentioned throughout) and is something like an end of the century Scarlet Letter. Professor Silk is having a passionate and secretive affair with an illiterate and abused younger woman. That's all the plot rehash I'm going into.
Anyway, Roth knows how to hit all the hot buttons: race, Vietnam, abuse, anal sex.... If it's a touchy subject, he hit it (although oddly, only an oblique reference to homosexuality). Therefore, I do not recommend this book to my mother! The only thing I found hard to read were the false accusations - for some reason I find those excruciating even in children's cartoons. I have to say that Roth is a master, and he writes about ideas without preaching. Even though I felt this book was a little dated in its focus I'm going to read the rest of his books to get a more solid feel for his writing.

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