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Letting Go Paperback – September 2, 1997
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"A rich book, full of incident, wry and sad and even in its most desolating scene somehow amusing." —Elizabeth Hardwick, Harper's
"[Roth] has the finest eye for the details of American life since Sinclair Lewis." —Stanley Edgar Hyman
From the Inside Flap
Newly discharged from the Korean War army, reeling from his mother's recent death, freed from old attachments and hungrily seeking others, Gabe Wallach is drawn to Paul Herz, a fellow graduate student in literature, and to Libby, Paul's moody, intense wife. Gabe's desire to be connected to the ordered "world of feeling" that he finds in books is first tested vicariously by the anarchy of the Herzes' struggles with responsible adulthood and then by his own eager love affairs. Driven by the desire to live seriously and act generously, Gabe meets an impassable test in the person of Martha Reganhart, a spirited, outspoken, divorced mother of two, a formidable woman who, according to critic James Atlas, is masterfully portrayed with "depth and resonance."
The complex liason between Gabe and Martha and Gabe's moral enthusiasm for the trials of others are at the heart of this tragically comic work.
Top Customer Reviews
The book is ambitious, no question--too ambitious, I think. It's as though Roth is trying to consolidate the entire human condition into one novel, which though admirable, is impossible to do. He's grappling with mature themes and questions, but the result is one of dilution. He paints his characters and issues in broad strokes; no particular theme or question gets its full due, despite the book's staggering length. Roth clearly learned his lesson with "Letting Go"--his subsequent novels were much more pointed and concise.
Other drawbacks: the male characters, as is typical of most Roth novels, are drawn far more convincingly than the females, who are too often portrayed as screeching, manic-depressive nags; Roth wanders too often from his narrative course (which accounts for the 630 pages)--for example, the shocking event that transpires in Part 5 is a blatant plot device that screams of insecurity on Roth's part and does nothing to shed light on his characters; and the overall dreariness of the characters and their nihilistic views of life often inspires, not empathy, but eye-rolling.Read more ›
Among the momentous choices are Gabe's and Paul's rejection of traditional Jewish religion and life. This is a novel of secular Jewish life and its compromises and difficulties. Gabe's mother has just died, and he is drifting away from his New York dentist father. Paul is Jewish, from Brooklyn, but Libby is a Catholic who converts to Judaism. They met and loved as students at Cornell. Both Paul and Libby are shunned by their families, which leads to tragic consequences.
Gabe and his friends are just beginning to explore the leading edges of the Sexual Revolution and are struggling with issues that today seem rather obsolete. Nevertheless these first glimmerings of women's liberation and sexual freedom caused all sorts of turmoil for those in the avant guard. Roth captures the angst, fear, depression, and exhilaration of those exploratory days.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I will tell you this. I am just 200 pages into this book right now. This book describes the truth of so many people's lives, probably most people's lives. Read morePublished 14 months ago by tennessee
There are few novels I have enjoyed reading more than I did Letting Go (1962), Phillip Roth's first full-length work (his previous output consisted of short stories and the novella... Read morePublished 19 months ago by M. Buzalka
A supreme first novel by PR! Sorry I waited this long to read it.Published 20 months ago by Timothy Spence
Still one of my favorites, and it help launch my journey into the tools of letting go.
One of my favorite tools of letting go of anything is what Hail Dwoskins called... Read more
Impossible to get any solace from feeling sorry for oneself.
Philip Roth's first novel, published 1962. A sprawling big thing. Great it may not be, but it is very readable. Read more
10th time I've read it since it came out.
Always stands up!! This is his best book, and his first!
I read some Philip Roth in my youth and was sort of reconnecting with him in reading "Letting Go. Read morePublished on May 14, 2013 by Arthur Bank
This is a great way to own Philip Roth's work. The print is good sized; the book quality is also good. I believe Roth is one of the best.Published on April 24, 2012 by gms
_Letting Go_ is not one of my favorite Philip Roth novels. Although quite realistic in its complex approach to male-female relationships, this may account for why I did not quite... Read morePublished on November 27, 2011 by IRA Ross