Thursday, March 10, 2005

More Philip Roth

Maybe Roth's book is "satire." (The novel is so bad I couldn't tell.)

The problem with Philip Roth is that he's a parochial writer whose limitations prevent him from raising his parochialism to universal appeal. He reminds me of the kind of cornball uncle we probably all encountered as kids-- wise-cracking Uncle Phil holding forth at family gatherings, his unbelievable wit and insight recognized by, maybe, two people, one of those his wife. "Isn't Phil funny?" she exclaims. "He's such a gas!"

Uncle Phil beams proudly, yet to you his brilliance remains a mystery. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, your sister's boyfriend Dino-- also tired of listening to the stupefying stupifications of Uncle Phil-- has taken refuge in mixing people's drinks. You take him Uncle Phil's glass. Dino's eyes light up. He pours what seems to you a lot of extra stuff into the glass. Uncle Phil downs it regardless, caught up in telling another boring trivial parochial Uncle Phil story.

After the drink, Uncle Phil becomes quiet. As the buzz from other guests happily rises, and Dino rejoins the party, Uncle Phil sloppily groggily asks you if you know the meaning of the word "spiked." "Spiked?" you ask. He leans forward with bad breath to explain it to you. "Yeah, like spiking a drink."

Maybe Philip Roth's writing would be more tolerable if someone spiked his drinks.

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