Skip to content
Advertisements

Philip Roth Is Kinda Smart

I think Philip Roth is like the Gandalf of the literary community.

Forget about Updike. Forget about Atwood. Forget about “young” upstarts like Franzen.

Philip Roth is a wisdom machine. He spits out wisdom bombs like Rick Perry spits out stupidity. If Philip Roth had been Obi Wan Kanobi, Annakin Skywalker would’ve never went to the dark side. In the words of Antoine from that famous YouTube video, “now go and tell that, homeboy.”

So who is this Philip Roth of whom I glowingly speak?

He’s the author of American Pastoral, The Human Stain, and a crapload of other novels. He apparently thinks a lot. Reading Roth should get you some type of modern philosophy credit toward an undergrad degree.

At times, his writing can get a little long-winded. But, despite the dry spots, I love how Roth seems to be honed in on the wacky nature of human beings. American Pastoral, with all its insight into the “mask” of Swede Levov, is brutally honest.

You’ve got to respect that. At least I do.

I like Roth. He seems a little grumpy, but that just means he’s an author. I still like him, even though I might disagree with him on some things–mainly his anti-God viewpoint. But, don’t worry, I won’t open that can of worms.  He’s just an extremely smart guy.

See what you think. This interview with Roth was for CBS News, not long after he released Nemisis. The video gives a nice glimpse into the life, background, and views of an author who is considered by some as the greatest living American novelist.

Any Roth fans in the house?

Advertisements
13 Comments Post a comment
  1. What a lovely interview, thanks for finding and sharing.

    Like

    January 9, 2012
  2. Interesting man interviewed by a silly journalist.

    Like

    January 9, 2012
  3. Ew the interviewer was pretty blegh. I like the way he handled it though. I’ve never read any of his books. And you see, saying stuff like that makes me feel so silly because I feel that as a book lover and having a degree in English, I should have intimate knowledge of Philip Roth and his work. Well that’ll change soon I guess. I requested volume one of American Pastoral last week.

    Right now, I’m reading I, Claudius.

    Like

    January 9, 2012
    • Agreed. She was a little weird.

      Good luck with I, Claudius. Can’t wait to hear what you think. I loved that book!

      Like

      January 9, 2012
      • I’m definitely enjoying it right now. I pretty much forgot what you’d said about it so I was surprised, in a good way, by the style it’s written. It has such an intimidating cover and title, but a flowy style. I feel like I’m getting some major gossip from a friend.

        Like

        January 10, 2012
  4. You may appreciate Philip Roth for what he has to say but John Updike is a far superior writer (and if you’re looking for a crap-load of books, Updike is certainly a contender, especially if you include all the writing he did for the New Yorker, etc.).

    I personally prefer Saul Bellow to either Updike or Roth. But none of the three can best William Gaddis.

    As far as authors such as Franzen, DeLillo, Irving, etc., I see that they are good enough to get published, but so too are Stephen King and Anne Rice. The world is full of the inexplicable.

    Like

    January 9, 2012
    • I personally enjoyed American Pastoral more than Rabbit, Run. But to each his own. Granted, those two are just a small sample of their works.

      Like

      January 9, 2012
      • Rabbit Run is only the first novel of a series. But even so, my point wasn’t concerned with enjoyment but rather with the quality of writing. I think if you read more Updike (and Bellow) you will get a better picture of Roth’s accomplishments, but don’t get me wrong, I love Roth; he’s just not quite on a par with Updike or Bellow or Barth or Gaddis (he’s also quite capable of writing some real stinkers).

        Like

        January 9, 2012
  5. Interesting! Thank you for sharing the video.

    Like

    January 9, 2012
  6. As I have said before, Roth is one of the writers that reflect back the absurdities of the human experience and make you think!! Clearly you are now a fan of his, so I want to know next whether you have read Wiliam Golding lately? Shakesperean grasp of human frailty, with an exquisite writing ability. Read ‘Freefall’ it is sensationally written For a taster , read my blog I wrote about it, http://amonikabyanyuvva.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/finding-golding/

    Like

    January 10, 2012
    • I agree with you on the importance of William Golding and the quality of both his writing and his thinking. Roth, however, is not his equal. Two things about Golding: first, I think the respect Lord of the Flies deserves has been damaged by the overexposure of its popularity, and second, my quintessential Golding is The Spire.

      I hope to read The Ends of the Earth trilogy later in the year to complete my reading of Golding. My advice for any new reader of Golding is to not forget the short fiction pieces. They are often amazing examples of the author’s skill and imagination.

      Like

      January 10, 2012
  7. So far I’ve only read one Roth and one Updike – Zuckerman Bound and Terrorist respectively – and if I judge by these two, Roth is by far the superior writer! However, I don’t think Terrorist is representative of what Updike can do so I’m looking forward to diving into the Rabbit series – as well as reading more Roth. This interview made me want to read him even more. Such an intelligent man – although he seems … sad? I agree with the importance of Golding as well – I really need to read more by him than Lord of the Flies. I would also like to give a vote to Joyce Carol Oates as one of the best writers – she’s probably the most prolific writer of the bunch and although her books vary in quality, she has written some masterpieces and is one of my favorite writers.

    Like

    January 17, 2012

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Another Great Novel Hits The Big Screen | 101 Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: