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Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
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Portnoy's Complaint (original 1969; edition 1994)

by Philip Roth

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5,341102822 (3.64)177
Member:eglinton
Title:Portnoy's Complaint
Authors:Philip Roth
Info:Vintage (1994), Edition: international, Paperback, 289 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth (1969)

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» See also 177 mentions

English (90)  Italian (5)  Spanish (3)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (102)
Showing 1-5 of 90 (next | show all)
Roth makes us laugh in this rather sad tale of a Jewish boy, growing up a weirdly familiar landscape. A rambling confession of a man's growing pains in an oppressive family. Groundbreaking at the time. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
"So. Now you know the worst thing I have ever done. I fucked my own family's dinner."

This is just one of many hilarious, and brashly descriptive images from this book! Holy mackerel is it raw and uncompromising! It reads like a therapy session, 30 something Alexander Portnoy talking to Dr. Spielvogel. Alex has a constipated father, and overbearing mother, and an obsession with his penis, masturbation, and shikses/the goyim! (did I mention he's Jewish?) He has a wonderful sex partner in The Monkey, and quite an introduction to sex with Bubbles Girardi (his poor eye!). Basically, if you want to laugh, read this book! Oy vey! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jan 23, 2016 |
Written in the sixty's with that sixties mind-set flavor. Enjoyable but x-rated. George Costanza all over again, pouring forth his angst from his shrinks couch. ( )
  DVDWalsh | Jan 18, 2016 |
I can't say I particularly enjoyed this book as it was a bit obscene for my tastes, too vivid descriptions of masturbation, etc. But, I did appreciate certain things about the book including writing style and I found the premise interesting. ( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
I first read this one back in high school and, in a lot of ways, it's as good as I remember it being. The book can be, by turns, funny, insightful, excruciating and observant, but what's most impressive about it is how incredibly unforced it seems: Roth's facility for rendering dialogue -- or rather, monologue -- is nothing less than amazing. Reading this one, you might as well be in the room with Alexander Portnoy, listening to him rant, remember, complain and interrogate himself. The novel verges on being some sort of historical document: in fifty years, you might be able to hand this to someone and say, "this is how American Jews spoke in the twentieth century." The text, which, of course, leans heavily on the passive voice, overflows with jokes, swears, regionalisms, and yiddishisms. You might also be able to say "this book perfectly expresses the condtradictions faced by the Jewish diaspora in the United States and exposes the cultural contradictions inherent in sixties-era liberalism." Any one of these would be an accomplishment, but Roth seems to pull them off all at once while barely breaking a sweat. It's half comedy routine and half exorcism, and it's a joy to read.

But there are also a few things here that keep this from being a five-star review. The first is that Alexander Portnoy seemed a whole lot less likable the second time round that he did the first, though this might have been because when a teenager myself I focused on his accounts of his teenage troubles. These sections still go down easier: Portnoy's more endearing when he plays his parents' victim than when he's acting like a fault-finding, thoughtless, chauvinist, a role that he occupies for much of the book's second half. The fact that he knows that's he's being unbearable, most of the time, doesn't make this stuff easier to read. Also, the book suffers from what might be termed the Woody Allen problem: both Roth and Portnoy love, and love describing, beautiful women, which is fine. But if Alexander's such a hopelessly neurotic cad, how come he keeps ending up with such terrific babes? At times, the book drifts towards fantasy, which might be, I suppose, also fine. "Portnoy's Complaint" isn't a documentary, it's a study of a hopelessly divided psyche in which we get to see an unstoppable id fight it out with a socially conditioned superego. Of course, I imagine some readers will only be able to take so much of this: the book, good as it is, can be an exhausting to read. Alexander's subconscious, from the book's very first sentence, is stuck on blast. Even so, whether you end up loving, hating, or identifying with Alexander Portnoy, this one should be on everyone's "must read" list. ( )
2 vote TheAmpersand | Jan 12, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roth, Philipprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fontcuberta i Gel, JoanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoog, ElseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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She was so deeply imbedded in my consciousness that for the first year of school I seemed to have believed that each of my teachers was my mother in disguise.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679756450, Paperback)

Along with Saul Bellow's Herzog, Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint defined Jewish American literature in the 1960s. Roth's masterpiece takes place on the couch of a psychoanalyst, an appropriate jumping-off place for an insanely comical novel about the Jewish American experience. Roth has written several great books--Goodbye, Columbus and When She Was Good among them, but it is perhaps Portnoy's Complaint for which he is best known.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:04 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Philip Roth's bestselling novel, which takes the form of a monologue featuring the confession of a comic character who is thrust through life by his unappeasable sexuality, yet at the same time held back by the iron grip of his unforgettable childhood.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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