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Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories (1959)

by Philip Roth

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,683453,843 (3.72)1 / 100
Philip Roth won the National Book Award for Goodbye, Columbus, the story which gives this collection of stories its title. The story traces the love relationship of Neil, a young college boy, and Brenda, the spoilt but love-starved daughter of a wealthy manufacturer.



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Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
After reading a bit of the title novella, I realized that I had begun reading this once before and had apparently put it down without finishing. It just felt like more of what, after having read a couple of other Roth books, seemed like more of the same -- which is to say a smart Jewish guy being kind of shitty to an unlikable woman. I'm happy to read this sort of story, but when it begins to feel like the only story an author tells, it gets a little old. I slogged through the title novella anyway (it was only about 100 pages, after all) and was happy to read wholly different types of story in the other five pieces in the book. I especially liked "The Conversion of the Jews," "Defender of the Faith," and "Epstein." ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
“Who knows what is and is not proof to the crotchety ladies and chainstore owners who sit and die on Boards of Education?”

In "Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories" by Philip Roth

Favourite line from a Roth novel ("Sabbath's Theatre"): "tits...tits....tits...tits..." (okay, I admit, you have to read it in context).

After two years of Roth’s passing, I finally somehow managed to unearth my 40+ year old, dog-eared (make that bassett hound-eared) copy of “Goodbye, Columbus” and re-read it just before each page turned into confetti in my hands and I remembered why I liked him so much all the way through “Letting Go”, “When She Was Good” and “Portnoy's Complaint” - the 1960's. It took “Our Gang”, “The Breast” and “The Great American Novel” - in other words, fully three more of Philip Roth's books before I accepted a much needed parting of the literary ways. It's hard to give up on a writer you liked from the very start - sort of like falling out of love, but not wanting to accept that absence of feeling. In the beginning I found Roth to be demonstrably alive - his prose crackled with energy. But for me it was a case of diminishing returns. I know there are Book People here who loved his work - fine with me - he had no need of my further approbation. Philip Roth wrote one of the funniest novels I have ever read - I can pay him no higher compliment.

Of course, not getting Roth isn't a crime, it is a different taste. This implication that writers somehow have some superior moral insight the great unwashed don't have, is a nonsense. Roth's writing is very bourgeois and I understand why bourgeois people like him. I keep buying his books but I'm too lazy to read them. I read “Portnoy's Complaint” years ago and liked it. I am trying to get through some of my old books at the moment. ( )
  antao | Sep 24, 2020 |
Read Goodbye Columbus in high school!
  beautifulshell | Aug 27, 2020 |
This was the first time I sat down and read a book by Roth in earnest. Many times I'd flipped through and skimmed some of his novels. I'm glad I started with his first novel. It was straightforward but the writing had a mesmeric quality. The stories I'd encountered in Esquire anthologies and been impressed with. Generally he seemed like a writer who could carry the reader along at a brisk pace while engaging his or her intellectual sensitivity. There are sentences you have to think about, which is not to say you don't want to think about them.
Perhaps one of my favorite touches was the dialogue of the narrator's Aunt from Goodbye, Columbus. You'll see what I mean when you get to it. These small, creative touches mark Roth apart for subtlety. He might have just been another Saul Bellow, but the difference is on the sentence level. There's a finer edge to Roth.
I would recommend starting with the included short stories. Once the rhythm of his writing sinks in his longer work is more easily digestible.
The only reason this one did not receive 5 stars is because certain passages in Goodbye, Columbus seemed slightly inconsequential. They all flowed together well, everything contributed in small ways to the character development, but there were times when the characters made a big deal out of a small thing, and commented on it profusely, and then did it again. I had the sense that the story line was blown a little out of proportion, or Romanticized. The last page was breathtaking, but some of the conflict appeared stilted to me. Still, it was an easy, thought-provoking read.
I think this volume is a great one to start with and I am fully confident that if I continue exploring his oeuvre there will be a five star rating to come, if not multiple. ( )
  LSPopovich | Apr 8, 2020 |
The writing is good. Direct, modern and somehow very open. There is some good dialogue. I picked this up because of 'The Conversion of The Jews' which still stands out as the best. Some of the stories have strange hangups and prejudices. ( )
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
I am always struck by the perfection of Goodbye, Columbus, however many times I read and teach it.
added by Shortride | editNational Book Foundation (Jul 14, 2009)

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roth, PhilipAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bikel, TheodoreNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buenaventura, RamonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gould, ElliottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kokinos, TonyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lehmusoksa, RistoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mantovani, VincenzoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pelitti, ElsaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Polak, NicoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rubinstein, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zaks, JerryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zegerius, FieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my mother and my father
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The first time I saw Brenda she asked me to hold her glasses.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Philip Roth won the National Book Award for Goodbye, Columbus, the story which gives this collection of stories its title. The story traces the love relationship of Neil, a young college boy, and Brenda, the spoilt but love-starved daughter of a wealthy manufacturer.

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