Hellishly busy here ... as ever it would seem. But I just wanted to say something (fairly incoherent and very limited) about Philip Roth's latest work Exit Ghost which I finished reading early this morning. There is, I think, something particularly fine about the novel. And that ineffable quality, whatever it is, and I'll try to get to it in another post once I've thought some more about it, is similar in its way to what I found in Coetzee's Diary of a Bad Year (so beautifully discussed over on This Space recently). One particular thing struck me and that was that the bits that aren't great -- characterisation and plot etc. have all been better elsewhere reviewers tell us -- aren't anywhere near as important to the novel as what is unsettlingly superb about it. It seems to be irreducibly what it is -- indeed, Zuckerman says something about art/literature being thus in the novel, but I can't find the darn quote ... Anyway, the formidable intelligence rises from every subversive -- self-subverting, that is -- page and makes me hungry to read Roth's backlist.

Readers Comments

  1. This is good to hear. A lot of the reviews have seemed clueless, but since I hadn't yet read the book, I couldn't say for sure (beyond the ones that are simply incompetent, of course).

    For Roth's backlist, I suggest the original Zuckerman books, starting with The Ghost Writer. (Which, along with Zuckerman Unbound, The Anatomy Lesson, and The Prague Orgy, is collected as Zuckerman Bound, recently reissued in the Library of America edition. I wish I had it; my old paperback didn't fare too well with my recent re-reading.) Then The Counterlife.

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