Phillip Roth Has Stopped Reading Novels

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Phillip Roth Has Stopped Reading Novels

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Fev 27, 2012, 1:23pm

I admit to some sympathy with this view:

Some months ago the novelist Philip Roth told an interviewer that he had stopped reading fiction. Here was arguably America's greatest living novelist confessing that he had lost interest in novels and short stories, and much preferred to read history or biography.

"I've wised up," said Roth. Beyond that, he did not elaborate.

Editado: Fev 27, 2012, 1:50pm

I made the same decision about 8 years ago and of the 500 books I've read since then, I can only recall two books being fiction (The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul and Snow Crash). It's quite liberating to not be chained to other people's fantasies.


Fev 27, 2012, 2:19pm

Who knows? Maybe it is a middle-age thing.

Not long after I graduated from college, I switched from about an 80/20 fiction/non-fiction split to one that was around 50/50. When I hit 30, though, the split was more like 90/10 in favor of non-fiction, where it has stayed ever since.

Fev 28, 2012, 10:49am

Increasingly, I find that works of fiction (including Philip Roth’s) are like Andy Goldsworthy’s site-specific sculptures: occasionally beautiful, but in a very transient way. Nothing that lasts or stays with you the way that great works of philosophy or (for me) theology, settle in you and continue to grow.

Maybe it is a good thing that precocious readers read the master works at early ages – and then, as our brains mature, and get more interesting in their own right, leave off and address realities: taking whatever knowledge or insight we gained from reading other people’s versions and applying it to our own. Novels certainly had their place in the formation of my thought and world view – setting the foundation, perhaps, but building the edifice itself is not work you contract out to others.

Fev 28, 2012, 12:19pm

I don't know. As the world around me gets weirder and weirder, I tend to turn more to fiction and poetry. I live politics, so I can only read so much of that, and that used to be my favorite non-fiction subject.