Lisa Halliday, Asymmetry

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday My rating: 3 of 5 stars The jacket copy of this fascinating 2018 debut novel—back cover and both flaps—informs us no less than four times that Lisa Halliday was a recipient of the Whiting Award. This award goes to 10 promising writers each year, and is granted by a jury that … Continue reading Lisa Halliday, Asymmetry

Philip Roth, Goodbye, Columbus

Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories by Philip Roth My rating: 5 of 5 stars She walked away and around the oak tree. When she appeared again she'd stepped out of her shoes and held one hand on the tree, as though it were a Maypole she were circling. —Philip Roth, Goodbye, Columbus (1959) Just … Continue reading Philip Roth, Goodbye, Columbus

Philip Roth, The Ghost Writer

The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth My rating: 5 of 5 stars The Ghost Writer is the good Roth, the safe Roth, wholesome enough to give to children and kittens and ducklings, hence, perhaps, its appearance on my syllabus this semester. (The guy who taught the class before me went straight to Portnoy's Complaint, but … Continue reading Philip Roth, The Ghost Writer

Philip Roth, Indignation

Indignation by Philip Roth My rating: 4 of 5 stars Les extrêmes se touchent—that is the meaning of this 2008 short novel, for which I have interrupted my reading of the Zuckerman novels (I was up to American Pastoral, though I have already read The Human Stain) just in case in case I ever want to … Continue reading Philip Roth, Indignation

Philip Roth, American Pastoral

American Pastoral by Philip Roth My rating: 5 of 5 stars American Pastoral is a novel whose motto is famously the following, its narrator's exclamation just before he learns that the life he'd imagined for an old neighborhood and school acquaintance is not the life the man had actually led: The fact remains that getting people … Continue reading Philip Roth, American Pastoral

Philip Roth, The Counterlife

The Counterlife by Philip Roth My rating: 4 of 5 stars I don't care for this novel as much as the distinguished critics do: Gass pronounces it "a triumph," Wood calls it "possibly [Roth's] greatest novel," Updike (on the back cover) says, "Roth has never written more scrupulously or more lovingly." But I find it … Continue reading Philip Roth, The Counterlife

Sublimity Listed: Bloom’s 12 American Writers

Harold Bloom has a new book coming out—rather like my grandmother, he's been falsely prophesying his imminent demise for almost my entire lifetime. Since the end will come for us all eventually, I'm always glad to see old Bloom fighting the good fight.* Now he lists his 12 authors who best exemplify "the American Sublime" (see the … Continue reading Sublimity Listed: Bloom’s 12 American Writers