Saturday, January 30, 2010


In The Ghost Writer, Nathan Zuckerman was a young author just getting his feet under him. In Zuckerman Unbound, he has had a smash success with a novel largely about jerking off. Fame and fortune aren't all they're cracked up to be, however. Nathan is hounded by an obsessed fan with photographic memory, he receives death threat mail from fellow Jews who think he's portrayed them badly in fiction, his third marriage has crumbled, and Nixon is president. He has sex with a film starlet and she turns out to read Kierkegaard and fuck Fidel Castro from time to time. Things couldn't possibly be worse.

I haven't read Roth in a while, and returning to him is like going back to a favorite place after a long absence. That voice is so appealing, and moves convincingly from perverse humor to despair with appalling ease. I'm always tempted to read him all at once, but resolve to savor these books slowly. There's no one like him (well, no one except perhaps Stephen Dixon, or Stanley Elkin). A great book.

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