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Everyman by Philip Roth
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Everyman (original 2006; edition 2007)

by Philip Roth

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2,759922,123 (3.64)109
Member:Subou
Title:Everyman
Authors:Philip Roth
Info:Vintage (2007), Edition: Paperback Edition, First Printing, Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:January 2013

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Everyman by Philip Roth (2006)

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English (77)  French (3)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (1)  Norwegian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (91)
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
A Flawless Work of Relentless Self-Reproach: The unnamed protagonist of EVERYMAN is a retired creative director of a prestigious New York advertising agency who has serious vascular problems. (He's moving to his eighth stent as the book ends.) This everyman was a poor husband and father but a good colleague who finds in his 71st year that "...eluding death seemed to have become the central business of his life and bodily decay his entire story."

In telling this story, Roth shows how illness combines with the elements of his protagonist's bittersweet life to expose and accelerate a downward familial and existential spiral. In this downward spiral, the protagonist cannot retain the underpinnings of his mature identity--his special relationship with his daughter, his love for his devoted brother, and the pleasure he finds in art and flirtatiousness. Meanwhile, the mistakes he made in life, largely due to his sexual adventurism, surge back on him in the forms of scorn, self-reproach, and isolation. For Roth's protagonist, life's final chapter is brutal.

Roth acknowledges that life's final stage does offer its own sad variation on success. The character Clarence Spraco, for example, dies but leaves behind an intact and affluent family that lovingly supports his bereaved wife. But this exception proves the rule, since for all other characters "...old age isn't a battle; old age is a massacre."

This is mesmerizing (albeit not cheerful) reading and highly recommended.


  mugwump2 | Feb 5, 2014 |
There is a firmness to the view of life in this book. A very earned wisdom, but I can't help but wonder if this everyman is too everymanish. Too much of a story that is already written within the gray areas of others. But it's a pretty tale, something altogether morbid, depressing and comforting. ( )
  TJWilson | Oct 14, 2013 |
This book is about an old man's life concentrating on loss, regret and stoicism. I found this book very bleak and depressing to be honest. It is very short and I think that if you are after something that is emotional then this book would be perfect as it is very emotion driven rather than plot. This feels strangely like a biography written from a third person perspective as it shows a man's life until death. Instead of telling the reader everything, it seems to only concentrate on the negative aspects of his life and this is why I felt I could only give this book 3 out of 5 stars. ( )
  charlottejones952 | Sep 2, 2013 |
Based on a number of nearly unanimous reviews, I began this book with a few expectations.

I expected the protagonist to be a self-obsessed emotional vampire; Roth's characters are often needy and broken, cyclically building up their lives, tearing them down, and wounding anyone foolish enough to mistake their emotional pawing for genuine love. The author met that expectation with room to spare.

But I also expected to have my heart broken. Most reviewers mention that this is a truly depressing book. It does indeed catalog the horrors of aging. You will not be spared any of the details. Illness and time do conspire to mentally and physically break down the protagonist, his friends, and his lovers. However, I didn't feel any of the loss I felt when reading Roth's The Dying Animal.

Here's what I think went wrong. Roth shovels the Everyman's life to you in great big heaps of unbalanced dirt. You learn everything there is to know about his transgressions and his pettiness. You follow every surgery he's had the pleasure to endure from childhood to the grave. But for some reason, you're spared all the best moments of his life. All the joy comes to you through the filter of a bitter old self-loathing man.

I'm going to do Roth the kindness of assuming Everyman was intentionally written to be so one-sided. Still, I don't feel at all depressed -- I'm indifferent. I never cared for the guy and the specifics of his life really do not apply to my own or the lives of those I love. The novel sounds one melancholy note and it's flat.

( )
  cshoughton | Sep 1, 2013 |
I re-read this book last week and enjoyed its dark meditations on maleness once again. "The life and death of a male body" is a phrase that comes up at least once, and rightly so. It reminds me of my father, and of his generation of successful east coast children of immigrant Jews. And, it is marvelous for its brevity and the way in which it captures the totality of a flawed human life, as reflected upon by the one who lived it. "Old age is not a battle; old age is a massacre" Roth wants us to know, and after you read this you will have been well warned. ( )
  hereandthere | Apr 8, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip Rothprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kooman, KoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dream when the day is thru,
Dream and they might come true,
Things never are as bad as they seem,
So dream, dream, dream.
-- Johnny Mercer,
from "Dream", popular song of the 1940s
the rare occurrence of the expected...
--William Carolos Williams,
from "At Kenneth Burke's Place," 1946
Dedication
To J.G.
First words
The Swede.
Around the grave in the rundown cemetery were a few of his former advertising colleagues from New York, who recalled his energy and originality and told his daughter, Nancy, what a pleasure it had been to work with him.
Quotations
You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance…and yet you never fail to get them wrong…You get them wrong when you meet them, while you’re anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you’re with them; and then you go home to tell someone else about the meeting and you get them wrong all over again…[T]he whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of all perception, an astonishing farce of misperception
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307277712, Paperback)

Philip Roth's new novel is a candidly intimate yet universal story of loss, regret, and stoicism. The bestselling author of The Plot Against America now turns his attention from "one family's harrowing encounter with history" (New York Times) to one man's lifelong skirmish with mortality.

The fate of Roth's everyman is traced from his first shocking confrontation with death on the idyllic beaches of his childhood summers, through the family trials and professional achievements of his vigorous adulthood, and into his old age, when he is rended by observing the deterioration of his contemporaries and stalked by his own physical woes.

The terrain of this powerful novel is the human body. Its subject is the common experience that terrifies us all.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:37 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The fate of Philip Roth's Everyman is traced from his first shocking confrontation with death on the idyllic beaches of his childhood summers and into old age, where he is stalked by his own physical woes.

(summary from another edition)

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