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Nemesis by Philip Roth
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Nemesis (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Philip Roth

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1,013658,409 (3.81)63
Member:Rob.Larson
Title:Nemesis
Authors:Philip Roth
Info:Houghton MIfflin Harcourt (2010), Paperback
Collections:Your library, To read, 1001 Books List
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Nemesis by Philip Roth (2010)

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» See also 63 mentions

English (49)  Spanish (7)  Dutch (4)  German (2)  French (2)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (66)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
A young man struggles with the big questions in the midst of a polio epidemic. Why is there suffering in the world, so randomly and carelessly delivered? Who is responsible? Why does God allow it (engineer it?) I've always like Roth's narrator-who-is-not-the-main-character method, and he returns to that for this, his final novel (he says). Didn't like it quite as much as Indignation, but these two clear and simple books are interesting, highly readable, and curiously haunting additions to his canon. ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
As you read Philip Roth's moving story of a Jewish neighborhood in Newark NJ fearful of the spread of polio, you can feel panic and paranoia as two boys are abruptly stricken. There is a desperation because of the lack of information about the disease as the vaccine was on licensed in 1962. The author's excellent writing examines the question of why God would allow innocent children to die of polio. I enjoyed this touching novel and I would highly recommend it as it is intelligent writing at its best. ( )
  eadieburke | Jan 19, 2016 |
Full review to follow on our blog (thereadersroom.org)

after my strong dislike of Portnoy's Complaint, I surprised myself by really loving this book. An interesting look at the role of guilt and attribution of causal factors for negative events. Roth's books are hit or miss for me and this one was my clear favorite thus far ( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
Nemesis Philip Roth
★★★★

Set in Newark in the Jewish Weequahic section during the 1944 polio outbreak this story focusses on Bucky a teacher and the playground supervisor a young man in his twenties who is physically strong but has been prevented from going to fight in the war due to his poor eyesight.

Bucky has been raised by his grandparents and is a honourable, kind, caring, hard working and determined young man, when on duty at the playground he encourages the children to be the best they can be and to respect each in fact he becomes an icon for many of them due to his can do attitude and the way he defends and stands up for them all.

When polio begins to strike the playground children Bucky is tormented, he visits ill children, attends the funerals of those who have died and takes it to heart when he is accused of being responsible for not closing the playground. When his girlfriend Marcia begs him to escape the heat and illness of the city and join her in a summer mountain retreat for children Bucky decides to go a decision that ends up taunting him for the rest of his life.

The polio outbreak makes Bucky question God and its interesting seeing his struggle between blaming God for making the virus and his guilt over what he believes is his role in the outbreak.

This is a character study about the power of guilt to change a life, while this is not a happy book it is definitely a book that makes you think and the world Roth creates is captivating and absorbing
( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
Audiobook. Should be a 3.5. I have followed Roth's recent books with interest. He is a few years ahead me on the road to old age and is writing about that experience in a way that fascinates me. This book has a somewhat different take on the concerns of my group and those just ahead of us. This story goes back to the polio epedemics of the 40s and 50s and brings that story near to the present. Fear of polio vaguely haunted my childhood. I came to know those in my age group who had polio (my immediately family and friends in my small town were spared) but I remember all of the drama around the polio vaccines. Going to the county armory for first the shots and then the sugar cubes. So this book was of great interest. What surprised me most about this book was its last chapter. Naturalizes the telling into a first-person narrative by someone living in the story. Takes the story of Bucky into the future of the book. And the undauntable Bucky is daunted. It becomes in its final moments a meditation on what makes folks flexible, able to cope, and what can doom to rigidity, being trapped. I find myself lingering over this book more because of the way it ends, without the happy ending I would have liked. ( )
  idiotgirl | Dec 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
It’s all a bit by the numbers, though Mr. Roth executes Bucky’s story with professionalism and lots of granular period detail.
 

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The first case of polio that summer came early in June, right after Memorial Day, in a poor Italian neighborhood crosstown from where we lived.
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Book description
Situé dans les environs de Newark , à l'époque où éclate une terrible épidémie de polio , Némésis décrit avec précision l'impact des circonstances sur nos vies .
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0547318359, Hardcover)

In the "stifling heat of equatorial Newark," a terrifying epidemic is raging, threatening the children of the New Jersey city with maiming, paralysis, lifelong disability, and even death. This is the startling theme of Philip Roth’s wrenching new book: a wartime polio epidemic in the summer of 1944 and the effect it has on a closely knit, family-oriented Newark community and its children.

At the center of Nemesis is a vigorous, dutiful twenty-three-year-old playground director, Bucky Cantor, a javelin thrower and weightlifter, who is devoted to his charges and disappointed with himself because his weak eyes have excluded him from serving in the war alongside his contemporaries. Focusing on Cantor’s dilemmas as polio begins to ravage his playground—and on the everyday realities he faces—Roth leads us through every inch of emotion such a pestilence can breed: the fear, the panic, the anger, the bewilderment, the suffering, and the pain.

Moving between the smoldering, malodorous streets of besieged Newark and Indian Hill, a pristine children’s summer camp high in the Poconos—whose "mountain air was purified of all contaminants"—Roth depicts a decent, energetic man with the best intentions struggling in his own private war against the epidemic. Roth is tenderly exact at every point about Cantor’s passage into personal disaster, and no less exact about the condition of childhood.

Through this story runs the dark questions that haunt all four of Roth’s late short novels, Everyman, Indignation, The Humbling, and now Nemesis: What kind of accidental choices fatally shape a life? How does the individual withstand the onslaught of circumstance?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:53 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Roth's "Nemesis" is the story of a wartime polio epidemic in the summer of 1944 and the effect it has on a closely knit, family-oriented Newark community and its children.

(summary from another edition)

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