“of course it wasn't until the film came out that i read the book. i mean, it's philip roth so i would have read it anyway but it sort of accelerated things when the film premiered. i wasn't expecting much, i mean - no one talks about 'the dying animal' like they do about 'portnoy's complaint' or 'everyman'.
the book was divine. it was shamelessly unputdownable. literally. i was starving and i needed to pee but i didn't put the bloody thing down until i read and digested every word.
i don't even know where to start. first of all it was just a good read. well-written but not pompous - just smart. it touched upon issues which everyone finds relatable: love, sex, family life, betrayal.
the plot itself was of course predictable - kind of lolita-esque, everyone knows it by heart - a man meets a woman, big age difference, a bit of passionate fucking which turns into obsession. but of course this is how it was meant to be. the actual story made up something of 10% of the novel, the rest was digressions. digressions which turned out to be not so digressive at all, if you know what i mean.
one thing i loved about the book is that the narrator speaks the language of men - portraying a shameless old man who's quite chuffed abouut his long list of 20-year old lovers, who trustis his basic instincts, who accepts adultery as a part of everyday life and doesn't believe in marriage. roth employs the dicourse of masculinity but somehow translates it into the language of women, so i, being a woman, suddenly start to the read the novel as if it was more of a handbook or a genius study of male behavioural patterns.
apart from all the smartness, i loved the interaction with the reader. roth's preferred reader is well-read so he does not shy away from employing intertextuality as one of the main devices. he drops in a bit of shakespeare, milton, even some of the puritan chronicles but he somehow manages to stay casual, he does not make you blush just because you haven't read 'the brothers karamazov'.
he also doesn't try to be innovative in terms of style. he just writes carefully and elegantly, always uses the write amount of words and simply provides the read with an amazing piece of simple literary art. he takes you to the place where form is content. he's just so observant, he creates the most complicated characters with precission and ease, he makes them fully believable, he provides many POVs, plays with the reader and is totally convincing.
i swear i could go on for ages. it's the best book i've read in a long time.”
olaszka p wrote this review Friday, November 2, 2012.