Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Indignation by Philip Roth (Book Review)

Prior to reading Indignation, my only exposure to Philip Roth was his classic Portnoy's Complaint -- which I strongly disliked (although I conceded that the novel is distinguished in breaking new ground for confessional prose).

I ended up reading Indignation by accident. I belong to the Quality Paperback Book Club and the book came to me because I forgot to decline off one of those monthly e-cards where you receive the books if you don't tell them you don't want them.

As it turned out, I thought Indignation was a tight, readable literary novel. The text is narrated by a young man -- apparently from the afterlife -- who recounts his confrontational relationships with male figures (father, fellow students, teachers) and his sexual awakening at college. It was good, not great, and engaging enough to make me consider reading some of Roth's other books.

2 comments:

  1. For what it's worth, I'm a huge Roth fan and I strongly disliked Portnoy's Complaint. I'd already read 5 or 6 of his other novels when I read it, and was shocked to find how much I disliked the very book he's most famous for.

    If you liked Indignation though, I would recommend reading some of his more recent work (American Pastoral or The Human Stain) or even some of his much earlier work (Letting Go or When She Was Good) but avoiding basically anything he wrote from the '70s to mid '80s, as (to me) it's mostly overwritten and a bit too 'experimental' for my taste.

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  2. hstrywilabslveme:

    Thanks for stopping by and the recommendations. I've always heard strong praise for American Pastoral, so I think I'll give it a try.

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