Monday, December 17, 2012


Goodbye, Columbus, Philip Roth, Houghton Mifflin, 1959, 298 pp

At last, I am no longer a Philip Roth virgin. He broke out with this collection of the novella, Goodbye, Columbus and five short stories, for which he won the National Book Award in 1960.

The theme of all the pieces is second and third-generation Jews moving from the ghetto into assimilation as Americans. I liked the novella for its characters and plot, though he stole shamelessly from Herman Wouk's Marjorie Morningstar. I fell shamelessly into the love story between Neil Klugman, poor New York City Jew, and Brenda Patimkin, New Jersey suburban Jewish American Princess. After all, this is one of the major plots of American literature in the late 20th century and already Roth could write like nobody's business.

The short stories ranged from not quite good to deeply weird but they had all been published in mags like "The Paris Review" and "The New Yorker." That was the way young, white, male writers gained recognition in those days and clearly Roth got his due.

Conclusion: I will continue with Roth's novels and ignore the short stories.

(Goodbye, Columbus is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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