Henry James said, “There are a thousand ways of enjoying life, and that of the artist is one of the most innocent… it connects with the idea of pleasure.” And it does; not just the private pleasures of the craft, nor the public pleasures of recognition, but that strange pleasure that comes of examining human experience, liberated of dogma and pronouncement, unburdened of having to say yes or having to say no.
–from Philip Roth’s 1960 National Book Award acceptance speech.
Indignation by Philip Roth is set in the early 50’s with the Korean War waging across the sea and the threat of the draft looming over young men like Marcus Messner, the son of the kosher-buthcher in Newark, New Jersey, who attends the city college across town and plays on the baseball team and works for his father. But his father’s paranoia forces him to move out to Winesburg, Ohio and the respectable college with brick buildings and mid-American values. But Marcus doesn’t fit in well with his new surroundings and falls in love with a Olivia Hutton, the girl with a scarred wrist.
Roth boils indignation with each of Marcus’ mis-steps and produces a seething illustration of a young liberal idealist opposing the strong arm of traditional American conservatism and failing miserably. It’s a bitter tragedy of another Newark Jew that Roth is so masterfully known for.
NPR has an interview with Roth discussing the novel that you can listen to (here).
Mark Sarvas isn’t impressed in his review (here).
Here’s an interview with Roth by Oregonian’s Jeff Baker.
Ever since I wrote a couple of political blogs last week I’ve had people from Washington reading up on me. And the other day I was driving down the road and I changed into the middle lane and someone in a black sedan three cars behind me changed into the middle lane also. So I sped up into the far right lane, passed a truck then moved in the far left lane. But the same sedan pulled up three feet from my bumper.
I performed some evasive movements like a head fake and the triple deke, but nothing worked, he was glued to me like Hu Jintao to the TV during a Baywatch marathon.
I’m supposed to report for jury duty in the morning, but it might just be a huge conspiracy to capture me. I’m working on a disguise so I’m not recognized by “them” and tortured until I give up my secrets. Because of my dark complexion I’m creating a mixture of cottage cheese and soy milk to lighten my color.
Speaking of cottage cheese, Philip Roth’s new novel Indignation is out today. At 5pm PST he’ll be doing a reading which will be shown on live video at selected bookstores across the nation. I was disappointed Powells wasn’t listed.
Power to the people. Jesus for President.