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Showing 1-10 of 48 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 198 reviews
on October 11, 2009
The popularity and critical acclaim that Philip Roth has earned over the course of a fifty year literary career must stem from some basic truths that appeal to a fairly wide audience of readers and critics. If these truths weren't clear by now, "Everyman" makes them readily apparent: Philip Roth's works speak to the struggles, angst, foibles and follies of the educated upper middle class American male. What women may think of Philip Roth I have no idea, except by judging the reactions of female readers, which tend to be much less positive than male readers' reactions. Perhaps what Oprah and "The View" do for women, Philip Roth does for men.

The basic structure of "Everyman" is a man recounting (and often lamenting) the major episodes in his life, as he looks back while facing the inevitable and yet unpredictable end. "Everyman" springs from earth that Roth has tilled many times before: childhood in northeastern New Jersey; love, intimacy, marriage and divorce; family, especially fathers and brothers; and physical ailments and death. There is a particular emphasis in "Everyman" on the travails of aging, and the inevitable, inexorable decline as each person falls from the height of his powers to an often slow, agonizing, lonely death.

Although the details of each man's life differ, I believe that many upper middle class American men will identify with the struggles of the main character in "Everyman". He divorces three times, and while not every American man will do so, I think most will be able to identify with the forces that the main character struggles with. As time goes on, he ends up estranged from several close relations and his loneliness mounts, which are certainly issues that many older people face. The portrayal that "Everyman" presents of aging and death is not a nice one, but it may be an all too common one.

Being a short novel, "Everyman" does not have the space for long tangential off-shoots of narrative, or passages rooted in alternate realities, or other literary techniques employed by Roth in his longer works. In that sense it is one of his more straightforward works, and yet it does read as a complete unabbreviated work. Because Roth is capable of much more inventive works of literature, I wouldn't rank "Everyman" among his best, but for what it is, a short novel, it did please this reader.
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on June 14, 2016
A classic Philip Roth book with thoughts about life, it's meaning and how we as human often gets things completely wrong even when we know it's wrong. It has clear marks of his own age and is at time almost depressing to read Roths reflections about becoming old. It's no so much old and wise as it is old, sick and lonely. But the writing is excellent and Philip Roth is giving a great and truly multi-faceted portrait of the main character and his life with and without women.
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on September 18, 2016
Roth at his Rothian best.
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on May 23, 2006
Everyman takes us on a life journey and as everyone knows by know, Roth was using the great medieval allegorical drama of the same title as his model. This is a book about cosmic angst, about facing the oblivion that awaits us as we age. Roth has tackled this subject before--in some sense, all major writers have tackled it. In the introduction to Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut, quoting Ferdinand Celine writes, "No art is possible without a duty dance with death." So here is Roth's duty dance, although he has certainly waltzed across this floor before in the Zuckerman books, "Sabbath's Theater,""The Dying Animal," and in many other of his 26 books.

The treatment here is a bit different--more relentless and focussed, although at the same time, more generalized and abstract. Although all of the people around the unnamed narrator are specified, he remains something of a cipher, and certainly doesn't have the presence of a Zuckerman or a Portnoy. Nonetheless, the book makes for engaging reading. Roth's lesser works are more compelling than the work of most American writers.
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VINE VOICEon June 18, 2006
I am not a fan of fiction nor am I familiar with Philip Roth. But, after reading a review of Philip Roth's "Everyman," I made an exception and bought it. I am glad I did. I found the book and Roth to be exceptional.

"Everyman" is the story of a successful advertising executive coming to grips with his own mortality. As he does, Roth takes us into his mind as he reviews his life - a life filled with poor judgment, irresponsibility, and lost opportunities for happiness, or at least peace. "He'd married three times, had mistresses and children and an interesting job where he'd been a success, but now eluding death seemed to have become the central business of his life and bodily decay his entire story."

Roth's "everyman" is self-absorbed, repeatedly taking the path "most traveled," a path blind to the truth of life. As illness takes over and the end nears, "everyman" begins to grasp truth and the source of life's real value. "When you are young, it's the outside of your body that matters, how you look externally. When you get older, it's what's inside that matters, and people stop caring about how you look."

But it is too late, "there's no remaking reality." Relationships are irretrievably lost and time has run out for meaningful pursuits.

This is not another "Tuesdays with Morrie," but rather, serves as a stark contrast to it. "Tuesdays" highlights an enlightened path to a peaceful death. Roth's "Everyman" highlights an unenlightened path that leads to loneliness and despair.

Roth, a gifted writer, insures that his "Everyman" will disturb most "everyman" who is over 50 and on the road "most traveled."
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on October 12, 2014
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 gives out. If you are already old, I hope you have found how to create purpose. Life, has no purpose so you get to create purpose for yourself. This really fine story is about a guy who didn't do this. You have been warned.
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on June 6, 2007
What a book!

When I finished reading it, I needed to take a lot of deep breaths to be able to release the sadness created by it!

The book is about the human condition. The main character is a successful executive at an ad agency with a very active sexual life who fails in all of his 3 marriages. He fails in being a good parent of his 2 sons but succeeds with his only daughter.

Probably, like most of us...

His main concern though is his health and we see how it goes away little by little, his life becoming a struggle to survive.

Probably, like most of us...

What fascinated me most about this book was the contrast between sex standing for the most intense feelings of an exuberant human being and the fear of death.

In our culture, talking about death is totally discouraged. Because of that, we are totally not prepared for what is a very natural act in our life. So books like these remind us that we can't dodge the subject forever and sooner or later we will have stents in our arteries, we will barely be able to move and-if we are lucky-will go to lots of funerals of our friends. Sad but true.
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This slim volume is a great addition to the body of work of Philip Roth, one of the most impressive writers in the last sixty years of literature. At the fall of Hemingway and Faulkner, at the deaths of Malamud and Bellow, Philip Roth lives to be the most provocative writer of any time. A writer who's characters age with him, but whose stories remain timeless. This book following an unnamed protaganist who is to represent the everyman, truly does, with the fears and worries of death, and ones understanding of mortality. This book should be on the reading list of colleges and High Schools, a mature and proper outlook on life, and the world around us. The story of a human in a human world. A story every human can relate to.

This is our generations The Death of Ivan Illych.
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'Old age isn't a battle; old age is a massacre.' Philip Roth in this brief 180 page latest book offers us an extended elegy about the processes of living and dying, and in his customary succinct style he manages to share the anxieties and fears and philosophical changes that pepper our lives as we tread from the memories of childhood to the realities of facing death. It is a beautifully designed and realized touching series of thoughts on the meaning of living a life.

The nameless Everyman relating the story is a familiar Roth creation: the child of a Jewish diamond and watch salesman, he grows up in New Jersey with his 'near perfect' brother Howie, manages to stumble through three marriages sire two sons and a daughter, and move through life never quite connecting with the moment. We meet him at novel's beginning at his funeral and the book is a retrospective of his life. And at novel's end, after walking us through the errors of his life and the treasured moments of his childhood and his time with his various wives, estranged sons, beloved daughter and the constant Howie, our main character reaches out to the world that is left as he faces his umpteenth surgery and brush with death by telephoning old acquaintances:

'Had be been aware of the mortal suffering of every man and woman he happened to have known during all his years of professional life, of each one's painful story of regret and loss and stoicism, of fear and panic and isolation and dread, had he learned of every last thing they had parted with that had once been vitally theirs and of how, systematically, they were being destroyed, he would have had to stay on the phone through the day and into the night, making at least another hundred calls at least'.

This is writing of the highest order, brief, touching, illuminating, caring. To read Roth is to look in the mirror, reminding us that while living we can make changes and alter destiny - to a point: and that does help. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, May 06
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VINE VOICEon September 6, 2007
I am around old, sick people a lot - both in my job and in my family. Some of them are on an unbelievable number of medications - both prescription and non-prescription - often pain meds and antidepressants thrown in. The ones that do better are the ones in better health and those that manage a good attitude, but none are exempt. If they have enough descendants, they probably have a certain amount of emotional angst to deal with as well - the disappointment of unnecessary estrangements and poor choices stacked on top of the relentless aging process. The book is a bit of a downer, but realistic. Roth puts it this way - "Old age isn't a battle; Old age is a massacre" - well worth reading.
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