I am unfortunately not as familiar with Roth's earlier works and previous reviewers, though I have read him, knew of him, and respected him as one of America's great writers. I was nonetheless excited to discover this motherlode of observation, perception and wisdom that deigns touch upon such complicated and socially sensitive matters as race, academic culture, contemporary social pyrotechnics, vietnam, and simply surviving the murk of daily living. As an African American, it was a very pleasant surprise to discover the implicit wisdom of Roth's dissection of what it must be like, or entail, to cross the color line. Roth explores the subject matter with a wisdom and sensitivity and, more importantly, and insigtfulness that is rather staggering. Should I add, for an outsider? But perhaps that is the implicit lesson of the book; that though we may be positioned as outsiders in viewing arcane matters dealing with other races, cultures and societal segments, we may not be at all--that the human stain that brushes against all of us, gives us insight into the plight, the problems, and the possiblilities of the rest of us. Roth's novel is excellent, entertaining and rewarding reading.