The Relentless Philip Roth

The Relentless Philip Roth
AP Photo/Richard Drew, file

Was there ever a novelist who was more of a novelist than Philip Roth? More of a long-haul moralist, more of a titanic grump, more of a sex fiend, more of an industrial reality-processor, more of a deskbound hero, more of a get-up-early-and-feed-your-life-into-the-grinder (even if your back is killing you) type of guy? His prose is prose, definitively prose, anti-felicitous and slightly barbarous. No Updikean grace notes, no heavenly Bellow-isms, no glassy Cheeveresque rhapsodies. When it’s bad, it’s mechanical. When it’s good, it’s biblical: stacked clauses and surging power and a shaking of fists at the skies.

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