Next Up: Portnoy’s Complaint
Love Philip Roth. Loved American Pastoral.
Portnoy’s Complaint? I have no idea.
The only thing I’m sure of is that this book has been called controversial. And explicit. And lewd. Here’s how the Wikipedia literary experts describe it:
“Portnoy’s Complaint (1969) is the American novel that turned its author Philip Roth into a major celebrity, sparking a storm of controversy over its explicit and candid treatment of sexuality.”
Oh, wonderful. One of those novels.
Like I said, I really loved American Pastoral, so I’ll be interested to see how this one differs, as it was Roth’s big breakthrough novel.
Sexuality aside, the setup is unique: It’s a continuous monologue from the protagonist, Alex Portnoy, as he meets with his therapist.
Here’s a few quick facts about Portnoy’s Complaint and Philip Roth:
- Published in 1969, Portnoy’s Complaint is 52nd on the Modern Library’s list of 100 best English Speaking 20th Century novels, in addition to being on the Time list.
- The book’s protagonist, Alexander Portnoy, shares the same birthyear (1933) and birthplace (Newark, New Jersey) as Philip Roth.
- The book sparked controversy because of its explicit discussion of sexuality, (um, masturbation) and its irreverent portrait of Jews.
- Portnoy’s Complaint has been banned, censored, and everything else under the sun, depending on where you live.
- In 1972, the novel was made into a movie with Richard Benjamin and Karen Black.
- Roth, who recently turned 80, has won The Pulitzer (American Pastoral), the PEN/Faulkner (Operation Shylock, The Human Stain, and Everyman), and the Man Booker International Prize for lifetime achievement in fiction. In other words, Roth is a legend.
I’m not sure how I’m going to write about this book without making the Google search terms that come to my blog become more and more pornish.
I guess that’ll make good content for Your Search Questions Answered, but it might be a little creepy.
Wish me luck with that.
Any thoughts on Portnoy’s Complaint?