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"Why is it that when they talk about the facts they feel they're on more soid ground than when they talk about the fiction?" The truth is that the facts are much more refractory and unmanageable and inconclusive, and can actually kill the very sort of inquiry that imagination opens up."
- Philip Roth, The Facts
Part memoir, part exegeis on the same memoir by Roth's ficitonal alter-ego Zuckerman (with some pointers from Zuckerman's wife if it hasn't already becoeme uber-Meta). I walked into this only partially knowing what I was getting into. I figured it would be more than just an author's memoir, but I was unprepared to like it as much as I did. I didn't lke it as much as The Counterlife (his previous work). Like the Counterlife, Roth is absolutely screwing with the traditonal form. He is bending memoir into a post-modern exploration of not just fiction, but memoir, facts, and his own history.
It would have been a good memoir without the Zuckerman invention, but somehow by having a fictional character critique a memoir, Roth is able to explore corners that straight memoir or fiction wouldn't allow. I still don' think it is top-shelf Roth, but it is still damn good.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Great narrative with insights regarding Roth, fiction and autobiography, New York Jews and gentiles and Roth's characterisation of them. I liked the references to characters in novels and links to Roth's personal story. Surprisingly little on some periods and if and how they affected Roth - McCarthyism, Vietnam War and the anti-war movement and more. Interesting even if only some of Roth's voluminous output has been read. However... the beginning for some reason was more engaging than the latter half. Nevertheless well worth a read 'n listen.