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Exit Ghost Hardcover – October 1, 2007
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Walking the streets like a revenant, he quickly makes three connections that explode his carefully protected solitude. One is with a young couple with whom, in a rash moment, he offers to swap homes. They will flee post-9/11 Manhattan for his country refuge, and he will return to city life. But from the time he meets them, Zuckerman also wants to swap his solitude for the erotic challenge of the young woman, Jamie, whose allure draws him back to all that he thought he had left behind: intimacy, the vibrant play of heart and body.
The second connection is with a figure from Zuckermanâs youth, Amy Bellette, companion and muse to Zuckermanâs first literary hero, E. I. Lonoff. The once irresistible Amy is now an old woman depleted by illness, guarding the memory of that grandly austere American writer who showed Nathan the solitary path to a writing vocation.
The third connection is with Lonoffâs would-be biographer, a young literary hound who will do and say nearly anything to get to Lonoffâs great secret.â Suddenly involved, as he never wanted or intended to be involved again, with love, mourning, desire, and animosity, Zuckerman plays out an interior drama of vivid and poignant possibilities.
Haunted by Rothâs earlier work The Ghost Writer, Exit Ghost is an amazing leap into yet another phase in this great writerâs insatiable commitment to fiction.
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It's probably best to read the Zuckerman books in order but "Ghost" holds up on its on as well.
As is always the case in Roth's writing, "Exit Ghost" works on multiple levels, and is concerned with much more than just the plotline. "Exit Ghost" is first and foremost a treatise on aging and the decisions and sacrifices that must be made during the long downward slide leading ultimately to the grave. Roth describes in vivid detail Zuckerman's physical ailments and the diminishment of his mind's ability to remember recent events. Roth shows how these not only impact Zuckerman's daily life, but also (and more importantly) the major choices Zuckerman must make in how to live his life. Should the aging process be fought at every step with all mental, physical and medical means available, or should one be more accepting towards the inevitable? Just what does it mean to live and to make the most of the finite time we each have left on this planet? How is one's work and one's ultimate legacy to be balanced against the need or urge to engage in human relations and resolve the conflicts that arise? In "Exit Ghost" Roth asks, analyzes and attempts to answer these questions.
As is the case with Roth's Zuckerman books, some people will read "Exit Ghost" with a focus on trying to determine how many of the conditions and events Zuckerman describes actually apply to Roth. While this may amuse and intrigue some, it is not at all an important issue. Had "Exit Ghost" been written by a 40 year-old Roth, it would still stand on its own as a great short novel. But if Roth's mind really is starting to degenerate to the point that, as Zuckerman states, makes it harder and harder to write a novel, I hope it holds out for as long as possible. I thoroughly enjoyed this Roth book and hope to read more new Roth books in the future.