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Neil Klugman and pretty, spirited Brenda Patimkin - he of poor Newark, she of suburban Short Hills - meet one summer and dive into an affair that is as much about social class and suspicion as it is about love. The novella, the first book published by Phillip Roth, explores issues of both class and Jewish assimilation into American culture. It won the National Book Award i Neil Klugman and pretty, spirited Brenda Patimkin - he of poor Newark, she of suburban Short Hills - meet one summer and dive into an affair that is as much about social class and suspicion as it is about love. The novella, the first book published by Phillip Roth, explores issues of both class and Jewish assimilation into American culture. It won the National Book Award in 1960. ©1993 Phillip Roth (P)2009


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Neil Klugman and pretty, spirited Brenda Patimkin - he of poor Newark, she of suburban Short Hills - meet one summer and dive into an affair that is as much about social class and suspicion as it is about love. The novella, the first book published by Phillip Roth, explores issues of both class and Jewish assimilation into American culture. It won the National Book Award i Neil Klugman and pretty, spirited Brenda Patimkin - he of poor Newark, she of suburban Short Hills - meet one summer and dive into an affair that is as much about social class and suspicion as it is about love. The novella, the first book published by Phillip Roth, explores issues of both class and Jewish assimilation into American culture. It won the National Book Award in 1960. ©1993 Phillip Roth (P)2009

30 review for Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Reading Road Trip 2020 Current location: New Jersey Philip Roth and I were born forty years and twenty minutes apart, in neighboring towns in New Jersey. Though I left The Garden State by age two, Roth lived most of his life there and became, for me, a voice to represent the curiosity I'd always maintained about my birthplace. I couldn't even imagine choosing a writer other than Roth for this portion of my road trip. Not one other writer entered my mind. But, just for the record, I hate Philip Roth. Reading Road Trip 2020 Current location: New Jersey Philip Roth and I were born forty years and twenty minutes apart, in neighboring towns in New Jersey. Though I left The Garden State by age two, Roth lived most of his life there and became, for me, a voice to represent the curiosity I'd always maintained about my birthplace. I couldn't even imagine choosing a writer other than Roth for this portion of my road trip. Not one other writer entered my mind. But, just for the record, I hate Philip Roth. Hate his fucking guts. I've dated some version of Philip Roth a least a dozen times. Good looking guys that made me crack up and want to go out to dinner with them. . . and then wouldn't stop talking about their Jewishness: being Jewish, being different, being circumcised, being the only Jew who hasn't traveled to Israel, being the only Jew who eats bacon, privately, at home. Oy! I once went out for turkey burgers and fries in college with an almost seven-foot-tall Adonis. I wanted to kiss this guy so badly, I couldn't even eat my burger. I was trying to keep my mouth free of food, slowly nibbling at the fries for something to do with my hands, while I contemplated the intriguing two feet of difference in our heights. Turns out, the guy had one Jewish parent and one Catholic parent and the entire date was spent with him talking about his commitment to wearing a yarmulke throughout all three years of public middle school and how much he was ribbed and beaten up and how a girl like me could never understand the struggle of the Jews or his painful decision to choose not to be Orthodox. Vey! Good God, french fries have never grown colder on a plate. Look, I know the Jews have had a helluva history on our planet and have endured what no other cultural or religious group has, but the thing is. . . I LOVE THE JEWS. I grew up among Jews, my best friends have always been Jewish, and I dated so many Jewish men in my youth, my Midwestern, conservative father sat me down once to ask me if I had contemplated the possible ramifications of marrying someone of a different faith. But here's who didn't love the Jews: Philip Roth! The man just could not get over his Jewishness. Good God, man, let it go! LET IT GO! I wish I would have had the foresight when I began this 136-page novella, Goodbye Columbus, to highlight how many times Roth uses the word “Jewish.” Truly, it must be an astounding amount. If ever a man struggled to make peace with his cultural identity or God through his writing, it was Philip Roth (Graham Greene might come in second place). But, despite Roth's tiring obsession with Judaism, it is not why I hate him. I hate him because he writes like a GODDAMNED BRILLIANT BASTARD. This collection was his DEBUT, and it makes me want to throw pens and rocks and packs of used birth control pills at his grave. You've got a lot of nerve, Roth.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mac

    This is his first book. Screw him.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    "You had a nice bath?" "Nice, shmice, it was a bath." Oy, is this a Jewish collection if I ever read one! Vey, it's damn brilliant, too. Philip Roth was no putz at the tender age of, what, 26? when this, his first book was published - and then won the National Book Award. He got in a lot of trouble at the time in his own community, for airing the "dirty laundry", so to speak. But these stories are gorgeous, and I think they are told with humour and compassion, not a wagging finger of condemnation. I "You had a nice bath?" "Nice, shmice, it was a bath." Oy, is this a Jewish collection if I ever read one! Vey, it's damn brilliant, too. Philip Roth was no putz at the tender age of, what, 26? when this, his first book was published - and then won the National Book Award. He got in a lot of trouble at the time in his own community, for airing the "dirty laundry", so to speak. But these stories are gorgeous, and I think they are told with humour and compassion, not a wagging finger of condemnation. It's LATER that Roth begins his self pitying whine-fest. Not here. Here, unencumbered by obsessive self-loathing omnipresent in his other work, in which he carries a constant albatross of his Jewish identity around his neck, it all but choking him, he is simply BRILLIANT. The title story of this 1959 collection is a novella (and, I just discovered, a film starring the lovely Ali MacGraw) which is charming, funny, engaging, and just plain wonderful. A story of first love, of clashes of class within a culture, of moneyed people versus those further down the totem pole, of the way people manipulate to get what they want. And there's Gladys, the quintessential food-pushing Jewish aunt, whose presence delighted me each time. I was worried about how the next five shorter stories could possibly follow such an act. But oh, what follows is divine. "The Conversion of the Jews" absolutely riveted and touched me. A young Jewish boy dares to question his rabbi on the topic of immaculate conception. Wow. "Epstein" made me laugh, but also ache, witnessing his humiliating mid-life crisis. "Eli the Fanatic", while amusing, touches on the pressure for the Jews to assimilate to American culture, and the shame some Jewish people feel when their own people don't conform. When I turned the last page of this book, I had the same feeling that I had after reading J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories: I have experienced something absolutely remarkable. Roth, I'm used to being annoyed by you. But I have to say, after reading this? You're a mensch!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    This collection of stories is splendid. Unbelievable that they were the very first ones Roth published as they are already so evocative and polished. If you were put off by Roth because you only read Portnoy's Complaint or Sabbath's Theater, you should read this book to see that there is a whole other side to Roth and a beautiful sensitivity as well. RIP (1933-2018). One of America's literary giants has left us. This collection of stories is splendid. Unbelievable that they were the very first ones Roth published as they are already so evocative and polished. If you were put off by Roth because you only read Portnoy's Complaint or Sabbath's Theater, you should read this book to see that there is a whole other side to Roth and a beautiful sensitivity as well. RIP (1933-2018). One of America's literary giants has left us.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Fabian

    Roth is basically a cosmic anomaly.* He wins Major Award #1 (out of like, a dozen TOTAL)--the National Book Award--for this, his freshman effort, thereby launching his oeuvre, his unique contributions to the zeitgeist, his Master's talent & CONFIDENCE. But does it deserve it? For the future career of this literary cosmonaut, yes; but as a stand-alone debut? Absolutely not! It is a love story of a "I'm this type of Jew but you are this type of Jew" variety. Historically significant, yet overrated, Roth is basically a cosmic anomaly.* He wins Major Award #1 (out of like, a dozen TOTAL)--the National Book Award--for this, his freshman effort, thereby launching his oeuvre, his unique contributions to the zeitgeist, his Master's talent & CONFIDENCE. But does it deserve it? For the future career of this literary cosmonaut, yes; but as a stand-alone debut? Absolutely not! It is a love story of a "I'm this type of Jew but you are this type of Jew" variety. Historically significant, yet overrated, overpraised. I suppose. "Know it exists," says me. "Don't read it." (i.e. "On the Road," "Under the Volcano," "Tropic of Cancer," "Mao II" et. al.) As for the accompanying stories--well, this is Philip Roth. So although we do get the rotten novella out of the way in the beginning (**), the short stories are very good (****). Earlier Roth is way more playful here than anything that comes later (you hardly ever laugh in any of his dramatic American tragedies); dare I say, picaresque? Two of the stories are even about childhood, which we NEVER really see in his beloved novels. (Kinda reminds me of another premiere writer, Mario Vargas Llosa. His own short story collection at the beginning of his career, "The Cubs and Other Stories," likewise portrays children & childhood--what it is to be green in something one day you will master! What it is to give up forays into shortstoryland for a titanic career as novelist!) Roth's five s.s. are all ambitious, topical, jarring (even funny--this is, again, like soooo rare for Roth*!)--important to the fabric of American history. *hyperbole, maybe PS RIP

  6. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    "Curiously, the darkness seemed to have something to do with Harriet, Ron's intended, and I thought for a time that it was simply the reality of Harriet's arrival that had dramatized the passing of time: we had been talking about it and now suddenly it was here — just as Brenda's departure would be here before we knew it." -Goodbye, Columbus How often do I think of the passing of time in this way, as Roth describes it in this poignant, wistful and utterly beautiful book. "Goodbye, Columbus" alrea "Curiously, the darkness seemed to have something to do with Harriet, Ron's intended, and I thought for a time that it was simply the reality of Harriet's arrival that had dramatized the passing of time: we had been talking about it and now suddenly it was here — just as Brenda's departure would be here before we knew it." -Goodbye, Columbus How often do I think of the passing of time in this way, as Roth describes it in this poignant, wistful and utterly beautiful book. "Goodbye, Columbus" already shows a master's hand in his debut. It's not about a love affair or class and social differences so much as it is about the passing of time. The love affair, which is supposed to be so ecstatic, is tinged constantly with the sad realization of its ending. The whole story is pervaded by a sense of inevitability and loss. That the outcome can be nothing but loss. It's as if the loss has already happened. The sense of place, of the arid stasis of dependency, the outsider, the fish out of water...all captured so perfectly. Some will likely fixate, wrongheadedly IMO, on the dated elements (eg., the "colored boy", the diaphragm, the parental shock over premarital sex)... So be it. The part that really brought tears to my eyes was when Brenda's brother, Ron, the clueless athlete being seemingly ushered into a marriage to please all parties, listens to a record album of his glory days as a basketball star. Again, the sense of something bygone, the glory days behind one already at such a young age. Now hustled into the banal mandates of social expectation. Ron laying on the bed, drinking in the last of his youth for the last time. This moved me so much. I could hear the record album; Roth describes it so perfectly. Like everything else in the novella, it flies off the page for me. But I initially delved into this svelte volume of early works by first reading one of the five additional short stories, "Defender of the Faith," on recommendation of a young reading pal. As I read it I wondered if this piece was where all the charges of Roth being a "self-hating Jew" had begun, and as I read on Wikipedia, it apparently was. So, Roth dares to look at things with more complexity than black and white and eschews neat and childish political boundaries and simplistic feel-good categories. All the more reason to show the man some respect. The story was superb. The man writes like an angel, as a friend once put it. The short stories: Each is splendid in its way. All dealing with Jewish assimilation in post-war (WWII) USA. "Defender of the Faith" and "Eli, the Fanatic" are the two longest ones, about 40-50pp. each. The latter is an interesting tale with some tinge of magical realism about assimilation vs. tradition; Jews in postwar America not wanting to upset the apple cart in the land that has treated them best of all the places on earth in their long struggle for peace; feeling shame about their orthodox past being out in the open in small-town America. Eli is a lawyer sent by his own assimilated colleagues to send the old-school Jews packing; but he tries to affect a compromise, sensing the injustice and feeling guilty about his own role in the process. The impending birth of his son elicits issues of continuity, tradition and self-identity as a Jew. The idea of a suit, not just as an outer piece of cloth than can be exchanged or replaced, but as an external manifestation of one's inner identity, etc.... Good stuff. "Epstein," another of the longer stories, tells of the mid-life crisis of a hardworking Jewish breadwinner; seemingly disrespected at home and tortured by a sense of life passing him by all around him. The inevitable lure of an affair,... "You Can't Tell a Man by the Song He Sings." This one, honestly didn't do much for me, but it was fun. "Conversion of the Jews." A cute story about magical revelations stemming from a boy's act of questioning and rebellion. Violence should not be a part of imparting faith on children, etc. In all of the stories, Roth's characters are not heroic, they are human and contradictory. Some people have trouble wrapping their heads around this. All the stories in this book should be read, not just "Goodbye, Columbus."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    If Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the New York novella about flirting with the city’s upper crust, then Philip Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus is the suburban story for the rest of us. A coming-of-age story about a summer romance, it plumbs tensions from class, generational, religious, and educational differences, and it does so in a way that is instinctive and visceral. While not the most self-aware, sensitive, or rational, the story’s characters—Neil Klugman, a twenty-three year-old man fro If Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the New York novella about flirting with the city’s upper crust, then Philip Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus is the suburban story for the rest of us. A coming-of-age story about a summer romance, it plumbs tensions from class, generational, religious, and educational differences, and it does so in a way that is instinctive and visceral. While not the most self-aware, sensitive, or rational, the story’s characters—Neil Klugman, a twenty-three year-old man from the poor neighborhoods of Newark, and Brenda Patimkin, the privileged and pretty young woman from Short Hills—are caught in the throes of imminent adulthood, and their flailing pulls Roth’s readers further and further into the personal tensions that drive the story. The result is that Goodbye, Columbus is about as human a novella as I know—human in the character’s confusion about their feelings and human in their often-irrational responses to these feelings. Do I recommend it? Yes. A complex but natural read. Would I teach it? Yes, but it would have to be to the right group. The writing is rich with meaning and ripe for discussion, but some of the content (though a remarkably small amount of it) might seem dated or awkward. Lasting impression: Tightly and creatively constructed, Goodbye, Columbus offers sharp insight into and humor about the vicissitudes of burgeoning adult romance.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chaunceton Bird

    Is it any wonder that Philip Roth is one of the most awarded authors to ever live? This, his first book, is written so well, that it almost doesn't matter what the stories (there's one novella and a handful of short stories) are about. Reading Mr. Roth is like fine dining. Nobody expects some unthinkable twist at the end of a delicious meal. That said, Mr. Roth's endings do not disappoint. These are incredibly well-written stories that I'd recommend to anybody wanting to see English put to its b Is it any wonder that Philip Roth is one of the most awarded authors to ever live? This, his first book, is written so well, that it almost doesn't matter what the stories (there's one novella and a handful of short stories) are about. Reading Mr. Roth is like fine dining. Nobody expects some unthinkable twist at the end of a delicious meal. That said, Mr. Roth's endings do not disappoint. These are incredibly well-written stories that I'd recommend to anybody wanting to see English put to its best use.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    Read the title long story. That was enough for me. I picked up the book because when Roth died earlier this year, I realized I’d never read anything he’s written. And I wanted to right that wrong. I understand why Roth is a celebrated author of his generation— unfortunately his voice may be of singular insight to his generation. Or maybe the material was too dated to really embrace it. Beware- cultural references to people of color are firmly (and understandably) rooted in the late 1950s when th Read the title long story. That was enough for me. I picked up the book because when Roth died earlier this year, I realized I’d never read anything he’s written. And I wanted to right that wrong. I understand why Roth is a celebrated author of his generation— unfortunately his voice may be of singular insight to his generation. Or maybe the material was too dated to really embrace it. Beware- cultural references to people of color are firmly (and understandably) rooted in the late 1950s when this book was written. Roth’s storyline about an African-American boy’s obsession with a library book was actually my favorite part of the story. Sadly, I was reminded that we haven’t come that far, despite the 60 years that have passed. There are some universal themes covered and he does them justice. Class distinction is tackled by many authors— some better than others. Roth’s prose gave me a real glimpse into his Everyman’s inner turmoil. (If Everyman was a young, white, Jewish vet stuck living with an overbearing Aunt, working in a meaningless job and always wanting something more.) Roth’s dialogue was spot on— I could imagine what his characters looked and sounded like, despite the fact Roth doesn’t spend too much time describing characters. I can imagine how his prose alternately shocked and maybe even moved his late 1950s readers. I am most definitely from a working class NJ family— so I had that in common with Roth’s main character. Roth tightened the noose of middle class values right around his young couple’s throats. Unfortunately, I just didn’t care enough about any particular character, except the boy. I detected an undercurrent of anger, or maybe self-loathing, that both saddened me and left me with out of breath with hopelessness by the story’s end. I can say I tasted the flavor of a Roth dish and it’s just not something I’d order again, although I can certainly appreciate the skill in the dish’s preparation.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Scott Rhee

    The first-ever book by Philip Roth that I read, in college, for a course in Literature & Film, "Goodbye, Columbus" is a semi-autobiographical story about young love/lust. The movie version of this novella, by the way, kind of sucks. I fell in love with the book and Roth's prose style immediately. I understand why he has been accused of being misogynistic in his writing, and I don't totally disagree, but I am inclined to say that he strikes me more as someone who is simply being honest about his The first-ever book by Philip Roth that I read, in college, for a course in Literature & Film, "Goodbye, Columbus" is a semi-autobiographical story about young love/lust. The movie version of this novella, by the way, kind of sucks. I fell in love with the book and Roth's prose style immediately. I understand why he has been accused of being misogynistic in his writing, and I don't totally disagree, but I am inclined to say that he strikes me more as someone who is simply being honest about his libido, and he doesn't seem to care if people find him offensive. I found that shocking and extremely titillating as a 20-year-old. I still find it bold and admirable. For a long period (involving most of my 20s and the early years of my 30s), I voraciously read anything and everything Roth wrote. Within the past six or seven years, though, I have basically taken a hiatus from Roth, not because I found his more recent books to be the ramblings of an aging curmudgeon (although that thought had crossed my mind in some of them), but because my literary interests had evolved and my desires in regards to what I look for in a good book have evolved. I still have the utmost respect for Roth, and I still consider him one of my personal favorite writers, but "Goodbye, Columbus" is forever a part of my confused 20-something cache of memories to which I can no longer return.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Okay, so this is finally happening. --- I assumed I'd have some overpowering reaction to this now that I was finally reading it (I only read the novella, not the other stories), but I didn't. Now I guess I get why people like Philip Roth so much: he's a terrific writer, and I enjoyed reading this book. I got a little bored halfway through, nothing serious, but I wasn't as crazy about it as I was at the start and didn't itch to pick it back up when I'd happened to set it down. I feel embarrassed and Okay, so this is finally happening. --- I assumed I'd have some overpowering reaction to this now that I was finally reading it (I only read the novella, not the other stories), but I didn't. Now I guess I get why people like Philip Roth so much: he's a terrific writer, and I enjoyed reading this book. I got a little bored halfway through, nothing serious, but I wasn't as crazy about it as I was at the start and didn't itch to pick it back up when I'd happened to set it down. I feel embarrassed and bad about myself that I don't have anything urgent I need to say about this. Again, it was very good, though the only thing I think will really stick with me is how glad I am not to be female in the nineteen-fifties.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Davida Chazan

    Come on... did anyone really doubt that this would get a full five stars from me? I mean, seriously... but if you want to find out WHY it still deserves 5/5 stars a full 60 years after its first publication, you can read my review on my blog here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2019/02/0... Come on... did anyone really doubt that this would get a full five stars from me? I mean, seriously... but if you want to find out WHY it still deserves 5/5 stars a full 60 years after its first publication, you can read my review on my blog here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2019/02/0...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shane

    Roths’s earlier books are fresh, humorous and vibrant compared to his recent work that is self-obsessed with aging, potency and dying. Goodbye Columbus is just such a vibrant collection that portrays, with humour, the angst of the Jews in New Jersey, transplanted from the recent Holocaust, and trying to find their place in the New World, hindered by a Socialist past, yet striving to become part of the Capitalist ideal. In the title story—a poor-boy-meets-rich-girl (who was once poor but can’t re Roths’s earlier books are fresh, humorous and vibrant compared to his recent work that is self-obsessed with aging, potency and dying. Goodbye Columbus is just such a vibrant collection that portrays, with humour, the angst of the Jews in New Jersey, transplanted from the recent Holocaust, and trying to find their place in the New World, hindered by a Socialist past, yet striving to become part of the Capitalist ideal. In the title story—a poor-boy-meets-rich-girl (who was once poor but can’t remember it) novella, a coming of age story and a bidding goodbye to the protected world of university days—the innocence of growing up in the ‘50’s comes out. A young couple driving in the Lincoln Tunnel on a secret mission are doing nothing more serious than having a diaphragm fitted, unknown to their parents; whereas contemporary literature would insinuate a more diabolical purpose involving drugs, bombs or homicide. The Jewish family structure is placed under the microscope when the brother of the rich girl is forced to marry and join the family home renovation business in order to earn a living, just because he has knocked up his girlfriend. When the extended family assembles for the wedding party, the dysfunction of an upwardly mobile family is laid bare. Uncle Leo Patimkin is by far the most interesting character, a travelling salesman, who has been left behind in the social climbing and has a lot to say about it, especially after a few bottles of champagne. In the following five shorter pieces, themes of guilt, separatism, survival, assimilation and neuroticism—typical challenges facing the newcomer—play out. In the “Conversion of the Jews,” a young Jew exploits his Rabbi and mother’s guilt over being responsible for his impending suicide by getting them to accept that divine births are possible if they believe in an omnipotent God. In “Defender of the Faith,” a Jewish army recruit cloyingly inveigles special privileges from his (also Jewish) sergeant and uses strategic lies to gain advantage. In “Epstein,” we see the classic immigrant who built himself up from scratch, now in middle age, trying to boost his sex life with a bit on the side and falling outside the norms established for his people, with disastrous consequences. “You Can Tell a Man by the Song He Sings” pits the incumbent ex-con American schoolboy against a brainy Jewish kid, where the moral of the story is that those who have been “in the can” know how to wreak their revenge and yet stay out of trouble compared to those naive ones who play by the rule book. The final story, “Eli the Fanatic,” is the most powerful, for it deals with the issue of assimilation and posits the question that it is the responsibility of both the incumbent and the outsider to make inclusion work. Eli’s plunge into neurosis and nervous breakdown signals to us that in 1950’s America this assimilation was still a long way off. For a book released in the 1950’s this collection must have been a rather candid piece of literature, and I’m sure as much as Roth caught America’s attention with it, he must have lost some fans among the Jewish diaspora. The mourning of one’s woes in public, at the expense of patient listeners, the fact that Jewish men at 23 were expected to live at home with their parents, that pre-marital sex even with a diaphragm was considered grounds for family upheaval, and that even the military had to accommodate for Kosher food, must have been uncomfortable skeletons to be aired for upwardly mobile Jews trying to make it in the New World and become part of the mainstream. And yet, these practices may be considered quite normal today, given that: we have public social media to reveal our most intimate gripes, unemployed young people are returning to parental homes in droves, sexual abstinence is making a comeback, and the military is bending over backwards to accommodate diversity in its ranks. I found the typical stylistic flaws of the writer in the early stages of his career; some scenes and situations are difficult to visualize and the narrative is unwieldy in places. Roth’s later work is more polished, but he seems to have acquired that polish at the expense of sacrificing that “in your face” humour that oozes out of Goodbye Columbus, making it an excellent read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    This is probably the fourth time I've read this book and every time I do, it feels like I'm reliving falling in love for the first time all over again. I chose Goodbye, Columbus as a read aloud book to share with someone special and hearing or speaking Roth's words made me much more aware of the humor and the cadence of the New Jersey Jewish speech. Aunt Gladys is the Jewish aunt I never had and I want her to nag and fuss over me too. It is a story about loss and longing, the ending of things, bo This is probably the fourth time I've read this book and every time I do, it feels like I'm reliving falling in love for the first time all over again. I chose Goodbye, Columbus as a read aloud book to share with someone special and hearing or speaking Roth's words made me much more aware of the humor and the cadence of the New Jersey Jewish speech. Aunt Gladys is the Jewish aunt I never had and I want her to nag and fuss over me too. It is a story about loss and longing, the ending of things, bottomless bowls of fruit, the public library, lust, love, and swimming pools. It’s also about fitting in, not fitting in, fear of being trapped, outdated sexual mores, social climbing, and young adult angst. It definitely shows Roth as a skilled young writer. Leo Patimkin, though only a side character, was one of the most memorable. And I will never forget Hannah Schreiber who, though she doesn’t make a real appearance in the book, has one of the most memorable lines: “Leo Patimkin, I believe in oral love.” Don’t we all, Hannah Schreiber, don’t we all.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Josephine Briggs

    Summer Love, A quick, easy, breezy read. This is the story of young love between two young Jewish people in their early twenties. The time is in the later part of the 1950s, the place, the city of Newark, and the upper class town of Short Hills. Neil Klugman meets Brenda Patimkin at the pool of Green Lane Country Club. Neil's cousin had invited him for the day. Neil's parents were in Arizona, they have asthma. Neil is living with his Aunt Gladys and her family in a working class section of Newar Summer Love, A quick, easy, breezy read. This is the story of young love between two young Jewish people in their early twenties. The time is in the later part of the 1950s, the place, the city of Newark, and the upper class town of Short Hills. Neil Klugman meets Brenda Patimkin at the pool of Green Lane Country Club. Neil's cousin had invited him for the day. Neil's parents were in Arizona, they have asthma. Neil is living with his Aunt Gladys and her family in a working class section of Newark. Brenda's family is wealthy, her father made his fortune in Kitchen and Bathroom sinks. Brenda invites Neil to dinner and to meet the family, the parents, her older brother who graduated from Ohio State in Columbus. Thus the name of the story. Brenda goes to Radcliffe, an expensive college in Boston. A kid sister, Julie, ten,completes the family. The books takes the reader through the long, hot summer months. The family is very athletic, all kinds of games with balls, basketball, golf, tennis, also horse back riding and swimming. This family is always playing ball games. The two begin joking back and forth at one another. Getting to know each other. Neil went to Rutgers, philosophy major, the army. The two tell each other about their lives. Neil works in the library. A little black boy, about nine or ten, playing outside by himself, comes into the library, wanting to see art books. Neil takes him to see the books. The boy becomes interested in a Gauguin book of Tahiti. He is fascinated by this book, comes to the library every day to look at the same book. A man tries to check it out. Neil tells him again and again it has been checked out. The summer goes by. Neil has a vacation. Brenda invites him to stay at her large house. Of course the two have been making love. The two talk about much. Brenda once lived in Newark before her father made his fortune. The house contains an old refrigerator filled with fruit which the two eat often and much. The summer is coming to an end. Brenda must go back to school soon. Ron is getting married to Harriet, his college girlfriend. She is pregnant, but the parents approve. Mrs Patimkin must rush around to prepare for a huge wedding. She does much for the temple and womens' groups. A big, expensive wedding, many guests. Neil meets Uncle Leo. a garrulous gentleman, Ben Patimkin's half brother, who talks much about his work, his life, about himself. Then comes Autumn. It all comes to an end. A good look into Jewish lives. My favorite characters are Aunt Gladys, she is fun to read about, as is Uncle Leo, and the little black boy who wants to know more about art and life.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    I needed to read this because it's Roth's urtext, and because I seem to be reading through Roth intermittently but steadily. I didn't exactly enjoy it, though it's certainly well written. It has that youthful angsty atmosphere that permeates many debut romans à clef (like The Bell Jar, The Rachel Papers, The Catcher in the Rye) and it introduces sexual dilemmas which I'm guessing were quite cutting edge in 1959. The five short stories following the novella are severely Jewish (yeshivas and the l I needed to read this because it's Roth's urtext, and because I seem to be reading through Roth intermittently but steadily. I didn't exactly enjoy it, though it's certainly well written. It has that youthful angsty atmosphere that permeates many debut romans à clef (like The Bell Jar, The Rachel Papers, The Catcher in the Rye) and it introduces sexual dilemmas which I'm guessing were quite cutting edge in 1959. The five short stories following the novella are severely Jewish (yeshivas and the like). One of my favorite passages: "...his short sleeves squeezed tight around his monstrous arms as though they were taking his own blood pressure..." (from the story "You Can't Tell a Man by the Song He Sings").

  17. 4 out of 5

    robin friedman

    Newark In Short Hills I turned to Philip Roth's first novel, the National Book Award winner "Goodbye Columbus" (1959) after reading a late book of Roth, the short novel "Nemesis" (2010). I wanted to compare the themes and writing of this great American storyteller over the long years of his writing career. This was my first reading of Roth's early masterpiece. While an excellent book, "Nemesis" does not have the verve of Roth in his rambunctious, iconoclastic youth. Both the early and the late Rot Newark In Short Hills I turned to Philip Roth's first novel, the National Book Award winner "Goodbye Columbus" (1959) after reading a late book of Roth, the short novel "Nemesis" (2010). I wanted to compare the themes and writing of this great American storyteller over the long years of his writing career. This was my first reading of Roth's early masterpiece. While an excellent book, "Nemesis" does not have the verve of Roth in his rambunctious, iconoclastic youth. Both the early and the late Roth novels feature a 23-year old male Jewish protagonist from the lower middle class of Newark, New Jersey. In "Goodbye Columbus", the chief character and narrator is Neil Klugman, a graduate in philosophy from a local public university who has served in the army and is working in the local public library until he determines what he wants to do with his life. Neil is living with his aunt and uncle to save on the rent; his parents have relocated for health reasons to Tuscon. Roth has a remarkable ear for colloquialism and for the rhythmic speech patterns of Newark Jews. The story centers on a summer romance between Neil and Brenda Patimkin of the suburb of Short Hills. Brenda's family had its origins in Newark, but with the economic success of the father's business in kitchen and bathroom sinks, the Patimkin's have relocated to a wealthy suburban home with all the amenities. Brenda is a student at Radcliffe and is spending the summer at home. Roth's "Nemesis", set earlier in the 1940s has a somewhat similar pairing of wealthy and poor Jews. Its protagonist is a young man, nicknamed "Bucky" (and Brenda Patimkin goes by the nickname of "Buck") who is in love with a wealthier girl, Miriam, the daughter of a physician from the near suburbs, and who visits her, at her invitation, at a summer camp in the Poconos far from sweltering Newark. Roth's Jewish characters frequently have a passion for sports and athletic activity, probably to counter stereotypes of over-intellectualized individuals. In "Nemesis" young Bucky is a physical education instructor who is gifted at hurling the javelin and at diving. In "Goodbye Columbus" as well, the story turns in part on Brenda's prowess at tennis and on Neil's ability to run. Equally important Brenda's older brother is a recent graduate of the University of Ohio, Columbus, where he starred on the basketball team. Much of "Goodbye Columbus" centers upon the brother's garish wedding to a young woman from the midwest. "Goodbye, Columbus" tells the story of the relationship between Neil and Brenda, which begins by chance, and quickly over a summer becomes intense and sexual. Brenda, pampered, wealthy, and spoiled and the rough around the edges Neil are attracted to and seem to want to love each other. But their relationship teeters upon their differences in economic background which led to suspicions and jealousy and backbiting. Neither family trusts the other, and ultimately the two young people cannot find a place for one another. Roth portrays masterfully these different social classes in American Judaism of the 1950's and the strong tensions between people of essentially the same background. He writes with genuine sadness about the failed relationship and with, in light of the criticism Roth's early work sometimes received, sympathy for both his flawed protagonists and their families. And in "Nemesis", Roth's late novel, he writes with nostalgia and affection for the Jewish community of his youth, both those of the poor inner city and those who had managed through education to reach the suburbs. In addition to showing the difference in class and wealth, Roth's novel turns upon the sexually repressive mores of the 1950s, a theme which also finds its place in "Nemesis" and in many of Roth's other novels. The short early novel of about 135 pages is masterfully written for a young writer as Roth develops both character and location. He is more at home with Newark than with the suburbs, writing, for example, "Once I'd driven out of Newark, past Irvington and the packed-in tangle of railroad crossings, switchment, shacks, lumberyards,Dairy Queens, and used car lots, the night grew cooler." (p8) The plot develops with an inner logic and with tension. Every step tells and contributes to the story. To take one example, Neil describes his encounter with a young African American boy at the Newark library who escapes into the stacks to look at art books of Gaughin's portraits of Tahitans. (At that time many young boys looked at art books to see nude human bodies. Roth's young child seems to have a larger-based interest). There are parallels between Neil's relationship to the young boy on the one hand and his relationship to Brenda on the other. And the child's fascination with the far-away Tahiti suggests Neil's longing for the seemingly unattainable world of Short Hills and Brenda. In addition to "Goodbye,Columbus" this edition also includes five stories Roth wrote as a fledgling author. These stories seem to be the basis for stories that Roth attributed to the young writer, Nathan Zuckerman, in his book, "The Ghost Writer" The Ghost Writer which received criticism, in Roth's telling, for their claimed negative portrayal of American Jews. The best of these five stories is "The Conversion of the Jews" which shows Roth's fascination with and skepticism about theological questions. Both "Goodbye, Columbus" and "Nemesis" share this preoccupation with religion which ends, in both early and late Roth, in secularism. An astonishing early effort, "Goodbye, Columbus" remains one of Roth's best works and is an excellent introduction to this author who has recently passed away. This is a book I would have liked to have read when younger. Robin Friedman

  18. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Clymer

    This is my second Philip Roth book. My first was "Portnoy's Complaint", which, in retrospect, was a mistake to read first. Don't get me wrong: "Portnoy's Complaint" is a classic, but it's not a masterpiece. "Goodbye, Columbus" is absolutely a masterpiece, and I was completely struck by the difference in tone and structure between the two. "Goodbye, Columbus", at its heart, is a novella and collection of short stories that address the Jewish Diaspora. When the book premiered, Roth--who is Jewish hi This is my second Philip Roth book. My first was "Portnoy's Complaint", which, in retrospect, was a mistake to read first. Don't get me wrong: "Portnoy's Complaint" is a classic, but it's not a masterpiece. "Goodbye, Columbus" is absolutely a masterpiece, and I was completely struck by the difference in tone and structure between the two. "Goodbye, Columbus", at its heart, is a novella and collection of short stories that address the Jewish Diaspora. When the book premiered, Roth--who is Jewish himself--encountered heavy criticism from perceived self-hating-Jew aspects of the book. Not being Jewish myself, I have no doubt there were countless references I missed, but on the whole, I felt the book was a warm and perhaps honest commentary on Jewish culture from the perspective of a young Jewish man. I would even call it a love letter. What's most startling about Roth's writing here is the authenticity. The dialogue among his characters feels so completely real that there were moments I forgot I was reading fiction. Ranging from the flirtatious exchanges between Neil and Brenda to the absolutely brilliant monologue of Uncle Leo at the wedding, there's an abundance of humor and heart and cringe-inducing familial dynamics to get the blood pumping. However, my favorite part of the entire book was the "The Conversion of the Jews" short story about a child who brings his small community to their knees by threatening to jump off a roof. When the story hit its climax, I had tears of laughter pouring from my eyes. It was brilliant. This book has made me want to devour the rest of Roth's work, and if that's not a compliment, I don't know what is.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Iris

    What's yr take on P-Roth? During the hubbub around the recent awarding of a Man Booker prize to Philip Roth, I was moved to revisit him by reading this novella, published when he was 26. "Goodbye, Columbus" was sensitive and fine, complicating my reaction to his prize. I initially sided with Carmen Calil, the Booker judge who abandoned the committee when the two-to-one vote favored Roth. Like Calil, I just can't take a writer seriously if he cannot and will not consider the lives of non-alter-eg What's yr take on P-Roth? During the hubbub around the recent awarding of a Man Booker prize to Philip Roth, I was moved to revisit him by reading this novella, published when he was 26. "Goodbye, Columbus" was sensitive and fine, complicating my reaction to his prize. I initially sided with Carmen Calil, the Booker judge who abandoned the committee when the two-to-one vote favored Roth. Like Calil, I just can't take a writer seriously if he cannot and will not consider the lives of non-alter-egos. Though I admire some of his work, I question whether he's in the right métier; for example, his awkward disdain for writing about women tarnished "American Pastoral," a novel that should have been an easy A. But not so in this delicate story, which has the feel of "The Graduate" and J.D. Salinger: a young man's summer with his girlfriend, her family, and his job at the New York Public Library. Roth writes about a version of himself while displaying generosity towards all kinds of characters: Brenda's father was especially fascinating, but so was Brenda herself and the little boy infatuated with Gauguin. This was the perfect read for a Sunday afternoon. If you have some spare summer moments, pick up this book and reflect on the Roth Question, which was hot last week, upon his acceptance of the prize, and which comes up every time he publishes a creaky Zuckerman novel.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Ahn

    I wasn't really sure where "Goodbye, Columbus" (the title piece of the collection) was going at first and didn't like any of the characters, but Roth has a special way of making seemingly inconsequential things become transformative and meaningful. I still vehemently disliked the characters at the end, but was somehow touched by them. Many of the other stories in this collection are similar in this way. The people in the stories themselves aren't significant or even sometimes, likable, but they a I wasn't really sure where "Goodbye, Columbus" (the title piece of the collection) was going at first and didn't like any of the characters, but Roth has a special way of making seemingly inconsequential things become transformative and meaningful. I still vehemently disliked the characters at the end, but was somehow touched by them. Many of the other stories in this collection are similar in this way. The people in the stories themselves aren't significant or even sometimes, likable, but they are moved by someone or something by some small drama of ordinary life and you feel the rawness of that as if it was affecting you personally. There is the stingy boyfriend who refuses to lose to a little girl and forces his girlfriend (who he doesn't even really like that much) to get on birth control and then leaves her. There's also the old man with the saggy breasted wife who gets crotch rot and a heart attack from sleeping around, the elementary school boy with a permanent record he never got over, the lawyer who goes crazy but isn't crazy, and my favorite in the collection -- the 13 year old heretic who jumps off a roof after admonishing his mother, "You shouldn't hit me about God, Mamma. You should never hit anybody about God..." Amen!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Conor Ahern

    Finished this en route to the Women's March in D.C., in the post-industrial N. New Jersey leg of that trip as a matter of fact. I knew that this was Roth's first book, but I didn't know he was 26 when it came out! Jesus, what a talent. It's probably a stronger debut than that other 20th C. American wunderkind Fitzgerald's (younger!) debut book, This Side of Paradise, but I think this book does more for setting expectations about themes and voices for Roth's career than Paradise did for soggy old Finished this en route to the Women's March in D.C., in the post-industrial N. New Jersey leg of that trip as a matter of fact. I knew that this was Roth's first book, but I didn't know he was 26 when it came out! Jesus, what a talent. It's probably a stronger debut than that other 20th C. American wunderkind Fitzgerald's (younger!) debut book, This Side of Paradise, but I think this book does more for setting expectations about themes and voices for Roth's career than Paradise did for soggy old F. Scott. And if there is a more distilled, earlier version of what came to be known as the stereotypical Jewish-American voice, I have not yet seen it--I've got to imagine that Roth's influence on our culture is extensive.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    At last, I am no longer a Philip Roth virgin. He broke out with this collection of the novella, Goodbye, Columbus and five short stories, for which he won the National Book Award in 1960. The theme of all the pieces is second and third-generation Jews moving from the ghetto into assimilation as Americans. I liked the novella for its characters and plot, though he stole shamelessly from Herman Wouk's Marjorie Morningstar. I fell shamelessly into the love story between Neil Klugman, poor New York C At last, I am no longer a Philip Roth virgin. He broke out with this collection of the novella, Goodbye, Columbus and five short stories, for which he won the National Book Award in 1960. The theme of all the pieces is second and third-generation Jews moving from the ghetto into assimilation as Americans. I liked the novella for its characters and plot, though he stole shamelessly from Herman Wouk's Marjorie Morningstar. I fell shamelessly into the love story between Neil Klugman, poor New York City Jew, and Brenda Patimkin, New Jersey suburban Jewish American Princess. After all, this is one of the major plots of American literature in the late 20th century and already Roth could write like nobody's business. The short stories ranged from not quite good to deeply weird but they had all been published in mags like "The Paris Review" and "The New Yorker." That was the way young, white, male writers gained recognition in those days and clearly Roth got his due. Conclusion: I will continue with Roth's novels and ignore the short stories.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    This is one of Roth's early short stories, which he wrote in his mid-20s and was awarded the national book award. While I really enjoyed most of his books, and I honestly believe the human stain and the plot against America to be true masterpieces, I couldn't quite see his genius in these short stories. The storyline, as well as the themes addressed in the cover story seem rather pubescent and naive, especially as Neil and Brenda realise what their relationship really means to each other when Ne This is one of Roth's early short stories, which he wrote in his mid-20s and was awarded the national book award. While I really enjoyed most of his books, and I honestly believe the human stain and the plot against America to be true masterpieces, I couldn't quite see his genius in these short stories. The storyline, as well as the themes addressed in the cover story seem rather pubescent and naive, especially as Neil and Brenda realise what their relationship really means to each other when Neil visits Brenda at college. Maybe it was interesting and thought provoking at the time it was written, but to me, although written eloquently, it was a bit boring.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Goodbye, Columbus earned Philip Roth many awards and much acclaim - shining a bright spotlight on his life and career - propelling his popularity to new heights. The writing is beyond phenomenal and outrageously riotous. Mr. Roth was undoubtedly an exceptional intellect - a true scholar and witty satirist rolled into one. Would love to have known him. What a rich, full and fascinating life he led!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ram

    A few weeks ago I bumped into an article titled “Is David Blatt a Philip Roth Character?” To those of you who do not know, David Blatt is the head coach of the Cavs He is Jewish and Lived for the last 30 years in Israel I had not heard of Philip Roth and I decided to read one of his novels A collection of 5 short stories, I liked most of . The book seems at many stages as a Woody Allen movie script, and I found some of the scenes funny. Since then I imagine how David Blatt would sound as a Philip R A few weeks ago I bumped into an article titled “Is David Blatt a Philip Roth Character?” To those of you who do not know, David Blatt is the head coach of the Cavs He is Jewish and Lived for the last 30 years in Israel I had not heard of Philip Roth and I decided to read one of his novels A collection of 5 short stories, I liked most of . The book seems at many stages as a Woody Allen movie script, and I found some of the scenes funny. Since then I imagine how David Blatt would sound as a Philip Roth Character so here it is: : Hi Mom : Dudinka…. At last you decided to think about your old mother and phone. : Mom I have been phoning you every day for the last thirty years. : It must cost you a fortune, where are you phoning from? : I am in Cleveland, we just won the Eastern conference. : You are still with that basketball nonsense? Sports is not for a nice Jewish boy like you. Why couldn’t you be like Brenda’s son and be a doctor, get married to a nice Jewish girl and live in New Jersey? Mom….. I am married to a nice Jewish girl and I live in Israel. Israel……. Been there…… The only decent toilet paper you can find there is in the American embassy…. Why would anyone want to live there? Mom…. You were in Israel in 1958, things have changed since then. Whatever, I hope you are changing your socks every day so you do not get athletes foot from all those athletes you hang around with. : You do not get athletes foot from hanging around with athletes and I do not hang around with them, I coach them. : I have heard about all those basketball players. Magic Johnson has aids, Michael Jordan is a gambler and that tatoo’d guy… Dennis something is a friend of the North Korean dictator. A nice Jewish boy should not be spending his time with those type of people, whatever you call it… coaching shmoaching Ich Veiss. those players retired over 15 years ago, I have never met them. ..This is probably costing you a fortune, we should hang up. …. It is not costing me a fortune…. Whatever…. Bye Mom Bye Dudinka and don’t wait so long before you call me again. ???????? Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

  26. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda

    When I first read Roth's Portnoy's Complaint in college, I confess that I was socially unable to truly understand it. I wasn't Jewish, I didn't grow up in New Yawk and, lastly, I didn't understand why one wouldn't, apparently like most of the University of Miami population, just go elsewhere. Still the title story is by far my favorite of Roth's stories, one which talks about both social insecurities and mistrust. Unlike others, I saw this as a natural outgrowth of the world, but that's another When I first read Roth's Portnoy's Complaint in college, I confess that I was socially unable to truly understand it. I wasn't Jewish, I didn't grow up in New Yawk and, lastly, I didn't understand why one wouldn't, apparently like most of the University of Miami population, just go elsewhere. Still the title story is by far my favorite of Roth's stories, one which talks about both social insecurities and mistrust. Unlike others, I saw this as a natural outgrowth of the world, but that's another issue. I loved the rebellion of our young protagonist, his sense of being lost but determined to make the best of what was there, essentially educating himself on the more important things in life, especially reading. In that identified perfectly. Even as a post social rebellion teenager, I felt like I might have wanted to be born twenty years previous. Evidently dissent was much easier back then... something which I have since learned is patently untrue. The heavy handed Goodbye Columbus refrain is a salute to a kind of honor in the past without it being in the present. It is an overwhelmingly significant image I took from the book. Clearly most of the characters in the book didn't see any value either but were bound and determined, after flirting with such, to fall into the expected lifestyle of the modern day working drone. Only our hero breaks free and runs. Which one of us has the courage to strike out on his own with nothing? Very Sartrean, but somehow very impressive, especially at the time when I was a college sophomore on her way to knowing everything.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Grant

    a book of stories and one novella. the novella is the title piece, "goodbye, columbus" and i think the reason i did not give the book 5 stars is that the novella was not as strong as the stories. that said, it is funny. it is good writing. the characters and situation are relateable. but the stories are where roth shines in my opinion. the first two, "the conversion of the jews" and "defender of the faith" i'd read before, but like any good story, they are both deserving of a second, third, four a book of stories and one novella. the novella is the title piece, "goodbye, columbus" and i think the reason i did not give the book 5 stars is that the novella was not as strong as the stories. that said, it is funny. it is good writing. the characters and situation are relateable. but the stories are where roth shines in my opinion. the first two, "the conversion of the jews" and "defender of the faith" i'd read before, but like any good story, they are both deserving of a second, third, fourth...read. there is the sense in some of the stories that the protagonist might have touched upon some magic, though the plot never really leaves the realm of realism. it gives the those stories an eerieness or cockeyedness. but they all capture a slice from the protagonist's life where his jewish faith, heritage, and culture are at odds with the life he has chosen or that has been chosen for him. which seems to be a theme for roth. a good one i think, since it seems that is something we all struggle with no matter our faith, culture, heritage, or family ties.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amber Lea

    I was really disappointed by this book. Philip Roth is one of those authors where he's so highly regarded by so many people that to say I don't get it feels like I'm announcing to the world that I'm an idiot, but I don't get it. I felt depressed by how thoroughly mediocre every character is. It's like a relentless onslaught of mediocrity. I don't know how else to describe it. The best thing I can say is occasionally his descriptions made me stop and go, "Wow, that is excellent writing." I really nee I was really disappointed by this book. Philip Roth is one of those authors where he's so highly regarded by so many people that to say I don't get it feels like I'm announcing to the world that I'm an idiot, but I don't get it. I felt depressed by how thoroughly mediocre every character is. It's like a relentless onslaught of mediocrity. I don't know how else to describe it. The best thing I can say is occasionally his descriptions made me stop and go, "Wow, that is excellent writing." I really need help to understand what other people are seeing here. Most reviews are just like, "Philip Roth: such genius." Do I need historical context? Cultural context? I live in New Jersey so it's not a Jersey thing. I understand what satire is, but am I missing what exactly is being made fun of here? Throw me a line.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Tenderly rendered. Goodbye, Columbus is a bit exasperating, as I take issue with these young whiny East-coast Jewish male protagonists (Michael Chabon's The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, I'm looking at you) who can't handle the women they're with and so bail on them like the big cry babies they are, but the short stories--especially and forever Eli, The Fanatic--are worth talking about. Tenderly rendered. Goodbye, Columbus is a bit exasperating, as I take issue with these young whiny East-coast Jewish male protagonists (Michael Chabon's The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, I'm looking at you) who can't handle the women they're with and so bail on them like the big cry babies they are, but the short stories--especially and forever Eli, The Fanatic--are worth talking about.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Breinholt Dorrough

    Angelic. Enrapturing. Roth maintains a gorgeous, mesmeric prose style; it is beautiful without ever becoming abstruse in the slightest. The dialogue is incredibly real. I can't believe this is his first book. Anybody who has felt a first love can sympathize with the dear narrator. The story and its characters breathe authenticity. This book makes me want to read more Roth, for entirely different reasons than Portnoy's Complaint spurred me on to read more Roth. I am amazed. Angelic. Enrapturing. Roth maintains a gorgeous, mesmeric prose style; it is beautiful without ever becoming abstruse in the slightest. The dialogue is incredibly real. I can't believe this is his first book. Anybody who has felt a first love can sympathize with the dear narrator. The story and its characters breathe authenticity. This book makes me want to read more Roth, for entirely different reasons than Portnoy's Complaint spurred me on to read more Roth. I am amazed.

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