- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st Edition edition (April 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0618059458
- ISBN-13: 978-0618059454
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 316 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hardcover – April, 2000
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The story is told by Nathan Zuckerman, aka Philip Roth, who lives near Coleman and becomes friends with him after his being drummed out of the college for a remark he made in a class that was misconstrued as being racially insensitive. It is a charge filled with irony given Coleman's background that is slowly pieced together by Zuckerman in the entirety of the book. In putting his life back together, Coleman begins an affair with a thirty-something female janitor at the college Faunia, who has been battered by life but who has a subtle appeal. Of course, this only adds fuel to the purity fire that has already burned Coleman. A French-born, young female professor and Faunia's ex-husband make every effort to ensure that Coleman pays a high price for his apparent indiscriminate pleasure seeking.
The book is really more of a sociological treatise than it is a novel. The characters go on for pages in their reflections and conversations concerning the fault lines in American society and the difficulties in surmounting them. The plot is only a device to substantiate those difficulties. There is a sameness to most of the characters: their personalities are secondary to their thoughts and words. But the words are riveting. It is hard to imagine a book that better captures the destructiveness that can enter lives when it is judged that social mores have been violated regardless of a high degree of hypocrisy lurking behind the standards.
The novel's characters , their deeply interesting life story, give that feeling of authenticity..these personages are really living in the novel and , in the reader mind .
Yes, there is high verbosity, so many words, that sometimes , as the saying goes, "can't see the forest !"
But, when, in our mind, after an intelectual "gestation", the surplus of words is filtered out, the story, the stories,individual and together, remain deep in the reader consciousness