Monday, March 10, 2008

Lindbergh against Winchell

More treadmill reading to report: I finally finished Philip Roth's The Plot Against America, which was a big hit when it came out a few years ago. In short, the novel envisions what might have happened if Charles Lindbergh, aviation hero, had defeated FDR and put an insidious set of anti-Semitic politics to work. It's told from the point of view of a little boy named... Philip Roth, which I can only assume was meant to punch up the novel with a realistic urgency but doesn't do much.

I actually liked the novel reasonably well. It's not very tightly written, but the premise itself keeps you intrigued. Roth does a great job of depicting real diversity among even a tightly knit Jewish family and community, with completely conflicting politics and attitudes towards Lucky Lindy. He drags a bit when trying to describe political machinations, which I think is the function of the narrator's restricted p.o.v. And I think that the ending was a bit of a cop-out, but I won't spoil it.

It almost makes me want to go reread Portnoy's Complaint, which I tried to read when I was far too young, probably. I remember thinking it was a pile of filth. (Which is something, because I read D.H. Lawrence without batting an eyelash.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Heidi, Anonymous Ben again!

Portnoy is pretty funny and telling (although the single most disastrous teaching experience of my career thus far; it was a class on Major American Authors of the 20th Century that was comprised of 27 girls and 1 guy), but I'd recommend American Pastoral if you're going to check out another Roth novel. One of my favorites from the last decade or so, and pretty filthy at times too, if nowhere near Portnoy (ie, no masturbation with sibling undergarments or slabs of meat; good times).

Back to grading!