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Conversations With Philip Roth by Philip…

Conversations With Philip Roth

by Philip Roth

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This book is a collection of interviews with and essays about Philip Roth and his work. I want to eat this book. It's full of really clever stories, interesting anecdotes, and a lot of insight into the process of the man I consider to be the greatest living author.

When I read a book, I use Post-It flags to mark passages that I find to be particularly interesting, compelling, or that I think can serve as stand alone examples of the feeling of a book. Usually I'll have 2 or 3 flags in a book.

In this book, I flagged 27 different passages, some of which follow.

On Our Gang, a satirical novel he wrote which depicted the fictional assassination of Richard Nixon, disgusted many who felt that he was calling for the assassination :

"I expect some readers will miss the point, clear as it seems to me. But all I can say to those who will fear for the President's life is that they would do better to lobby for a strong federal gun-control bill than to worry about the influence of Our Gang on potential assassins. Admittedly, it might be easier to push for a bill outlawing literature than for one making it impossible to buy a rifle through the mail for fifteen bucks, but the fact remains, more people are killed in this country every year by bullets than by satires."

On how being a Famous Writer affected his ability to teach:

"In recent years, my public reputation has sometimes accompanied me into the classroom, but usually after the first few weeks, when the students observe that I have neither exposed myself nor set up a stall and attempted to interest them in purchasing my latest book, whatever anxieties or illusions about me they may have had begin to recede and I am largely allowed to be a literature teacher instead of Famous."

On his literature students, and why he likes to teach them :

"They read as though it matters."

Sometimes when I'm working on my own fiction, I start to get discouraged thinking about how I will never been as good as The Greats. I am going to put this next passage above my desk so that the next time I think that way, I will remember that even Roth feels that way at times.

"I just finished reading Updike's Rabbit is Rich in proof. He knows so much, about golf, about porn, about kids, about America. I don't know anything about anything. His hero is a Toyota salesman. Updike knows everything about being a Toyota salesman. Here I live in the country and I don't even know the names of the trees. I'm going to give up writing." ( )
  agnesmack | Sep 4, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0878055584, Paperback)

This collection of interviews reveals the intellectual and creative life of one of America's contemporary masters of fiction writing. In spanning his richly productive career, they convey a sense of his continuity and of his growth as a novelist.

Roth has said that one of his goals is to reconcile "experience that I am strongly attached to be temperament and training--the aggressive, the crude, and the obscene, at one extreme, and something a good deal more subtle and, in every sense, refined, at the other."

These conversations reveal a savvy, thoughtful man who shows great intelligence, confidence, and wit, as well as an admirable sense of humility and tact.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:39 -0400)

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