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Starred Review. [Signature]Reviewed by Sara NelsonWhat is it about Philip Roth? He has published 27 books, almost all of which deal with the same topics—Jewishness, Americanness, sex, aging, family—and yet each is simultaneously familiar and new. His latest novel is a slim but dense volume about a sickly boy who grows up obsessed with his and everybody else's health, and eventually dies in his 70s, just as he always said he would. (I'm not giving anything away here; the story begins with the hero's funeral.) It might remind you of the old joke about the hypochondriac who ordered his tombstone to read: "I told you I was sick."And yet, despite its coy title, the book is both universal and very, very specific, and Roth watchers will not be able to stop themselves from comparing the hero to Roth himself. (In most of his books, whether written in the third person or the first, a main character is a tortured Jewish guy from Newark—like Roth.) The unnamed hero here is a thrice-married adman, a father and a philanderer, a 70-something who spends his last days lamenting his lost prowess (physical and sexual), envying his healthy and beloved older brother, and refusing to apologize for his many years of bad behavior, although he palpably regrets them. Surely some wiseacre critic will note that he is Portnoy all grown up, an amalgamation of all the womanizing, sex- and death-obsessed characters Roth has written about (and been?) throughout his career.But to obsess about the parallels between author and character is to miss the point: like all of Roth's works, even the lesser ones, this is an artful yet surprisingly readable treatise on... well, on being human and struggling and aging at the beginning of the new century. It also borrows devices from his previous works—there's a sequence about a gravedigger that's reminiscent of the glove-making passages in American Pastoral, and many observations will remind careful readers of both Patrimony and The Dying Animal—and through it all, there's that Rothian voice: pained, angry, arrogant and deeply, wryly funny. Nothing escapes him, not even his own self-seriousness. "Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work," he has his adman-turned-art-teacher opine about an annoying student. Obviously, Roth himself is a professional. (May 5)Sara Nelson is editor-in-chief of PW.
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Roth's late-career surge has the Minneapolis Star-Tribune wondering if the esteemed writer is "juicing himself on the literary equivalent of steroids." After the success of The Plot Against America (**** Nov/Dec 2004), the Pulitzer Prize-National Book Award-PEN/Nabokov?winning author shifts his focus from the political to the intensely personal. The critics divide into two camps: those that see Everyman as a cohesive blend of Roth's thematic concerns and those that feel he's just treading the same old ground he covered in The Dying Animal, but with much less success. It's a tug of war of expectations, with the supporters of this 27th novel outnumbering the disappointed. For a man who once said, "Sheer playfulness and deadly seriousness are my closest friends," expect more of the latter from this short, meditative work.<BR>Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
There are a few pieces of popular art that, if studied, give one clues to the answers to the “what’s it all about. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Stacy Helton
This book arrived in good condition. Great story. Price was better than what I could get it for locally. Stood up to being read multiple times by more than one person.Published 5 months ago by GingerH
Everyman has 4 stars and 180 reviews. Fault in our Stars has almost 5 stars and 35 000 reviews. The simple math of this tells me that we are now 5 minutes away from the... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Aaron
This is as powerful as any Philip Roth book I've read. He usual thematic concerns get swallowed up here by a relentless focus on late life; on the decline of a single anonymous... Read morePublished 6 months ago by jafrank
I was at an 'in-between-books' impasse for a couple days, then picked up a book I'd found at a library sale last summer. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Timothy J. Bazzett
Everyman is the story of an unidentified narrator whose body is failing him in old age which, naturally, depresses him. Read morePublished 8 months ago by JB
Sobering but a necessary exercise in existential thought. May help to get your priorities straight. Well written by a master.Published 9 months ago by James V. Fetten
Another masterly trek through life; from birth to death with a lot more on death. Obviously, this is something that Roth is thinking about with increasing concern. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Thomas
It's been said that men have two heads that require blood but only enough blood for one at a time. If you are still young, find some purpose that will sustain you until your body... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Joschka