Saturday, November 21, 2009

2009 book 237

Philip Roth's The Ghost Writer
Well, I've never been a huge Roth fan, and this book didn't even begin to convert me. For one thing, it's fairly boring--all that happens is that young Nathan Zuckerman, Roth's fictional counterpart, goes to dinner at the home of a writer he admires, and they flatter each other and talk about writers, and then Nathan has an extended sequence where he imagines a young woman staying there is actually Anne Frank (which makes no sense in context, and was the only reason I read the book in the first place), and then the esteemed writer and his wife have a fight.

Interestingly, there is a moment that hints at Roth's Plot Against America, when Nathan's family tried to talk him out of publishing a story that makes Jews seem greedy by asking if he'd write such a story in Germany in 1938, and when he's all "aw Mom, this isn't Europe!" she's like, it could have been! I wonder if the Holocaust has really haunted Roth to that extent all these years--to the point where he imagined and wrote a world where it did happen here (frankly, I think most Jews go through something similar after learning about the Holocaust--though he did grow up during the 1940s so maybe it seemed more immediate).

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