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I Married a Communist: American Trilogy (2) Paperback – November 2, 1999
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Stranger in the House" by Shari Lapena
In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A thriller packed full of secrets and a twisty story that never stops - from the bestselling author of "The Couple Next Door." See more
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Iron Rinn (né Ira Ringold) is a self-educated radio actor, married to a spoilt, rags-to-riches beauty, silent-film star Eve Frame (née Chave Fromkin). He is a Communist, and a "sucker for suffering," locked into the cycle of violence from which he has emerged. She has risen by assiduous imitation of what is "classy"--which seems to include a wide swathe of anti-Semitism--and ultimately denounces her husband as a Soviet spook. And who would be the narrator of this McCarthy-era meltdown? None other than Philip Roth's longtime alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, who learns the full tragedy several decades later, owing to a chance encounter with Ira's brother: "I'm the only person living who knows Ira's story," 90-year-old Murray Ringold tells Nathan, "you're the only person still living who cares about it."
Characteristically, Nathan also discovers that his own story was bound up with the blacklistings and ruined careers of the immediate postwar period. It seems that he had been tainted by his association with the Ringolds--Murray was in fact his high-school teacher--and was denied the Fulbright scholarship he deserved. "They had you down for Ira's nephew," Murray tells Nathan. "The FBI didn't always get everything right." Roth's acerbic style and keen eye for emotional detail goes to the heart of this moment of high tragedy in which the American dream was damaged beyond repair. --Lisa Jardine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Disconcerting echoes of Roth's relationship with Claire Bloom, as revealed in her memoir, Leaving the Doll's House, haunt Roth's angry but oddly inert 23rd novel. As in American Pastoral, Roth again deals with the Newark of his youth, and with the sons of Jewish immigrants to whom America has given opportunity and even riches?and how they are swept off course by the forces of history. Roth's old alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, narrates the story of Ira Ringold, aka Iron Rinn, a supremely idealistic political radical and celebrated radio star of the 1950s who is blacklisted and brought to ruin when his wife, Eva Frame (a self-hating Jewish actress born Chava Fromkin), writes an expose called I Married A Communist. The impetus for Eva's treacherous act is Ira's insistence that she evict her 24-year-old daughter from their house; the resemblance to Bloom's revelations of Roth's similar demand is too close to miss, and Roth's shrill belaboring of the issue seems a thinly disguised vendetta. Even high-pitched scenes of family conflict don't bring the novel to life. One problem is that the flat flashback narration shared between the 64-year-old Nathan and Ira's 90-year-old brother, Murray, is stultifyingly dull. Some fine Roth touches do appear: his evocation of the Depression years through the McCarthy era has clarity and vigor. But Ira's aggressively boorish behavior as he struggles with his conscience over having abandoned his Marxist ideals to assume a bourgeois lifestyle is never credible, and his turgid ideological rants against the American government are jackhammers of repetitious invective. In addition, the depiction of an adolescent Nathan as a precocious writer and social philosopher and the saintly Murray's infallible memory of long conversations with Ira?even between Ira and Eva in bed?challenge the reader's credulity. For those who lived through the years Roth evokes, this novel will have some resonance. For others, its belligerent tone and lack of dramatic urgency will be a turn-off. 150,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.