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Name: Emily Bullock
[ book tip by Emily Bullock ] I may be writing this review but I am still hearing Portnoy’s voice in my head, still living in his world. Philip Roth captures the essence of a living, breathing personality with all its foibles and neuroses in Portnoy’s Complaint. (Don’t forget to read the quote that precedes the book to understand what this ‘complaint’ is.)
Portnoy is a Jewish American man born and raised in New Jersey. He is the voice of the monologue, a man desperate to leave his family and childhood behind but one who is destined to relive those moments in every failed romance and bungled affair. His ‘extreme sexual longings’ drive him on to greater and greater thrills. He might never be satisfied but as a reader I felt replete.
Roth creates in the voice of Portnoy a truly believable person, and it was with regret that I had to leave him and put the book down. Portnoy was talking to me: laughable, horrifying, pitiable; every emotion conveyed with wit and eloquence. Although short on descriptive detail, the vivid dialogue creates a layered and tangible world. The monologue draws you in but never feels like a one-sided conversation. Portnoy’s family leap from the page and with them the noise, the trauma, and the fun that families can create around themselves like a dust storm.
Anyone who has undergone the rigours and humiliations of growing up will identify with Portnoy and his world. Roth never fails to deliver and I am determined to work through his catalogue. Plot Against America here I come...
[ book info ] Roth, Philip: Portnoy's Complaint.
(Book language: English)
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