The incomparable master Roth retutns with the final Zuckerman book.
In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House, and in 2002 received the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction, previously awarded to John Dos Passos, William Faulkner and Saul Bellow, among others. He has twice won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2005, Philip Roth became the third living American writer to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. The last of the eight volumes is scheduled for publication in 2013.
Philip Roth's 28th book is, it seems, the final novel in the Zuckerman series, which began in 1979 with The Ghostwriter. A 71-year-old Nathan Zuckerman returns to New York after more than a decade in rural New England, ostensibly to see a doctor about a prostate condition that has left him incontinent and probably impotent. But Zuckerman being Zuckerman and Roth being Roth, the plot is much more complicated than it at first appears. Within a few days of arriving in New York, Zuckerman accidentally encounters Amy Bellette, the woman who was once the muse/wife of his beloved idol, writer S.I. Lonoff; he also meets a young novelist and promptly begins fantasizing about the writer's young and beautiful wife. There's also a subplot about a would-be Lonoff biographer, who enrages Zuckerman with his brashness and ambition, two qualities a faithful Roth reader can't help ascribing to the young, sycophantic Zuckerman himself. As usual, Roth's voice is wise and full of rueful wit, but the plot is contrived (the accidental meeting with Amy, for example, is particularly unbelievable) and the tone hovers dangerously close to pathetic. In the Rothian pantheon, this one lives closer to The Dying Animal than Everyman. (Oct.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
In Roth's ninth installment in the Zuckerman saga, the reclusive author leaves his mountain retreat in the Berkshires to return to New York City for a promising new treatment for incontinence, a lingering reminder of his battle with prostate cancer. Almost immediately, Zuckerman is contacted by Richard Kliman, a brash young journalist who is working on a biography of the long-forgotten writer E.I. Lonoff, one of Zuckerman's mentors and the subject of Roth's first (and best) Zuckerman novel, The Ghost Writer (1979). Scandalous new details have emerged about Lonoff's sex life, and Kliman wants to break the story. Zuckerman resents Kliman's Zuckerman-like ambition, and argues heatedly that Lonoff's literary work is the only thing that matters. His private life is off limits. Meanwhile, Zuckerman becomes obsessed with a beautiful, wealthy young Texan and imagines an elaborate seduction, which he is simply too old and too sick to put into effect. While not one of Roth's strongest works, this novel has all the elements: unreliable narrators, authorial games, meditations on the use and abuse of literature, and a firm grounding in the reality of post-9/11 New York. Recommended for most fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/07.]-Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.