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Goodbye, Columbus : And Five Short Stories (Vintage International) Paperback – January 13, 1994

4.0 out of 5 stars 138 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1974's My Life as A Man Roth examines how a writer revises his reality, compiling two stories "by" one Peter Tarnopol and a third in which Tarnopol is the fictional protagonist. Vintage will simultaneously reissue Goodbye, Columbus , Roth's National Book Award-winning first novel, together in a new edition with five short stories.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This release by the 1960 National Book Award winner will acquaint listeners with the world of American Jews in the 1950s and to Roths wit and insight into the problems accompanying assimilation. A widely respected American writer, Roth is the author of 22 books, including American Pastoral (Audio Reviews, LJ 10/1/97) and I Married a Communist (Houghton, 1998). Goodbye, Columbus features Neil Klugman, a young man from Newark living with his aunt, and Brenda Patimkin, an archetypal Jewish American Princess, whose summer romance illustrates the tension between old world values and the new suburb-based culture. Provocative and entertaining, the other stories tell of likable characters, mostly men, who embrace their Jewishness yet must face conflicts in family and community. Although written nearly 40 years ago, these stories illustrate truths about America and its relationship with Jews that remain relevant today. The readers, who include actors Theodore Bikel and Elliott Gould, are all excellent, capturing the particular characteristics of Jewish American speech. Highly recommended for all libraries.Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (January 13, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679748261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679748267
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Philip Roth is a great writer. Yeah, we've all heard this at one point or another (at least those of you taking and wasting time to read a review of one of his books). This was Mr. Roth's first published work, a short novel and five short stories that forced us to realize this man had arrived violently on the scene as a powerful literary force. Let's talk about the stories in this collection:
"Goodbye, Columbus" is, honestly, without the standard hyperbole so many people slab into reviews such as this, one of the best novels I have ever read. It was written by a twenty-five year old man who was only going to get better (as his work from the mid-1980s to the present firmly establishes) yet here we have the wisdom of our great American gods. It is a beautiful story, funny and painful and filled with truths anyone in those recent post-college, still-not-finding-one's self perspective could learn and grow from. I love this story, and it is filled with agonizing self-analytical material that shows who it is we are dealing with, the intellect and the passion, the savagry and the wit. There are not too many single stories of American authors I could recommend more highly than this book, in particular the five page sequence from which this story gets its title. It is haunting and true, one of the rare glories of English in narrative form. If for nothing else, get this book to read this lovely novella. It is, profoundly, a masterpiece (not a term I use lightly either, being the bitter cynic I am--check out other reviews I've written--I can get rather mean)>
Among the other stories, the most celebrated is "Conversion of the Jews", and for good reason.
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Format: Paperback
Goodbye, Columbus is a coming of age story, a summer romance between a poor boy and a wealthy girl. Many themes that were to show up in much more detail in his later works are presented in embryonic form in this novella, his first major work. Being Jewish in America, sex, class boundaries, the American Way: All Roth subjects, all handled with intelligence and compassion.

Neil is the typical poor Jewish boy enamoured with Brenda, the classy, self-assured, rich girl. He shows a rare spark of confidence when he calls her for a date after first meeting her at a swimming pool, when she accepts and they meet, he finds that he really doesn't know what to do from there. But, they bumble through the beginnings of a relationship, mutually attracted physically, diametrically opposed socially. Neil has a few 'poor' ideas and thoughts that Brenda cannot relate to, while she accepts such luxuries as a maid or 'getting her nose fixed' with such ease and complacency that we - and Neil - are amazed. Over the summer, their relationship develops further, with the typical ups and downs of love colouring the journey.

Neil is the 'I' character of the story, and it is through his point of view that we watch the story unfold. However, even though the story is in first person, there is never much of his personality revealed through contemplative thought or reflection. Instead, we learn who he is from the way he interacts with Brenda and others, and from the way he studies the events in which he is involved. By the end of the novella, we (mostly) understand his motives and ideas, and though, admittedly, it is a little difficult to imagine Neil existing outside the scope of the novel, that actually plays into the theme of the story.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a good book and I would definitely recommend buying the PRINT version.

However, the Kindle Version is an absolute DO NOT BUY. I am seriously outraged at the number of typos. At first I thought it was just here and there, but in certain sections there is at least one typo per page; there are accents on words that should have accents (thé = the?).

Unreadable. Don't do it.
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Format: Paperback
Goodbye, Columbus is the story of Neil Klugman from poor Newark and Brenda Patimkin from an upper-crust family in Short Hills and their relationship over a summer. Neil relates the story of his love for the beautiful Brenda, a love in which the two share little in common. He presents his hopes and dreams and his ultimate realizations about the state of the world and about himself. The novella is ultimately a beautiful, complex coming-of-age story which it seems everyone goes through.
Goodbye, Columbus is one of the best books I have read. It was so realistic and easy to relate to. I think that I have had a relationship similar to every one related in the novel. There are so many great insights to be found here. The novella isn't a difficult read, but one should definitely be aware of a lot of the symbols (such as the title, the fruit, the lions, and the uncle at the wedding) to glean the most from it. I will also say a word about the short stories. All of them, particularly "The Conversion of the Jews," were wonderful. They alone would make the book worth five stars; they just seem to get forgotten because of the masterpiece the opening novella is.
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