Nemesis by Philip Roth

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Nemesis by Philip Roth

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Nov 3, 2010, 4:33pm

Has anyone else read Roth's newest work yet? I picked it up for a cross-country plane ride and gulped the book down in a couple of sittings. There is a bit of a lull right in the middle, in my opinion, but I found Nemesis to be Roth's best work, as a whole, in quite some time.

Nowadays I approach Roth's books with some trepidation. He is one of my true literary heroes, but I've found the quality of his work to have dropped quite a bit since, well, the midway point of The Plot Against America.

I had no use for Exit Ghost or The Humbling, thought Everyman and Indignation both good but not great. Nemesis, I think, is better, more solid through and through, then all of these works.

The time and place is Roth's beloved Weequahic section of Newark (where, as a matter of fact, I too lived until my family moved to the suburbs in 1966 when I was eleven). It is the tail end of WWII, a scorching summer and polio has reared its ugly head in the city.

We get Roth's clear and spare language, a relatively simply told story, and--in my view--a pretty powerfully told tale that does not lay on the schmaltz too heavily. We get an examination of the nature--and limits--of personal responsibility in tough times, and more that I won't go into here for fear of plunking in a spoiler.

Good stuff. I was happy to see it.

Nov 3, 2010, 5:43pm

glad to hear you liked Nemesis, i agree that his later works have been lightweight although I disagree regarding Exit Ghost which i liked and serves as a good epilogue to the Ghost Writer which I loved.

Roth is a great writer who is still prolific as ever. i hope he has a few more surprises up his sleeve.

thanks for the review.