Monday, May 08, 2006
My own two cents
Philip Roth's creations tend to travel in schools. Here we have the Zuckerman books, here the Kepesh books, and over there the Roth books--the most slippery and scintillating of the bunch. Yet his new novel seems to have wriggled free of these taxonomic confines. The protagonist of Everyman is nameless. He also emerges from the straitjacket of family life with none of the Houdini-like exertions so typical of his fictional cousins. Can Roth really be starting from scratch?You can read the rest here.
Not exactly. Sometimes, you see, size does matter--and the slender heft of Everyman, combined with its funereal jacket, should have been an immediate tip-off. What we have here is a companion piece to The Dying Animal, which Roth published in 2001. In that similarly proportioned novel, mortality brings David Kepesh to his knees without actually killing him. In this one, the hero dies--no spoiler, since he's being buried in the very first scene. And what really interests Roth this time around is the depersonalization of death. The closer we get to the grave, the more we each shed our singularity and turn into--well, into Everyman, a creature of flesh and blood and diminishing spirit.
Your excellent review of Everyman was published on my XXnd birthday, in honor of which a dear friend gave me this very book! How's that for harmonic convergence (whatever that means)?