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Nothing in the summary hints at the sucker-punch that this book delivers in its heartrending conclusion. The frame of this novel is the love affair between an older college professor (David) and his beautiful student (Consuela), who is many years younger. The themes of this book include the struggle for meaning in life, loss of youth, mortality, connection, sexual fulfillment, familial loyalty and disloyalty, and honesty with oneself. The themes are developed by the primary story, as well as by a series of remembrances that David narrates from his life. Yes, there are quite a number of scenes of explicitly described sex and sexual fantasies. Gratuitous? No. Pornographic? No. Stick with this short novel to the end. It is well worth it. Very well narrated.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
"The Dying Animal" explores those corners of human mind where the lust and sexual desires live.
The main character of the book is the aging man named Kepesh, an intellectual celebrity, amateur pianist and university scholar.
Divorced when was still quite young he kept his solitude as a virtue, a freedom and ... the ground for endless sexual adventures with his young female students. His life was well arranged, promiscuous and easy-going until, at age 62, he meets Consuela, a beautiful offspring of Cuban emigrants. Initially his desire for her is almost only bodily, almost fleshly and full of fetish obsession about her breast. But as Consuela demonstrates her freedom - he almost falls in love with her. This love reveals itself in a strange way - in his morbid jealousy for her, her friends, boyfriends and even brothers. I say "almost" because he maintains the sexual relations with his previous lover. Reading the book it is very hard to judge if Kepesh was only an animal with sexual desire to Consuela, or if he truly loved her, but was intimidated by his senescence, generation gap etc...
There is also an interesting part about father-son relations. Kepesh - the bad father, who forsook his son when he broke his marriage, has, nevertheless, an important role in boy's life.
The book ends in completely unanticipated and tragic way - shocking the readers at first. However, in the tragedy and uncertainty of the book climax lies its most important virtue - the reflection on, sometimes insecure and full of abeyance, yet true love and caring, the love that has a power to fight the death. That is my rendering of Kepesh final indecisiveness - contrary to many reviews I have read...
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I have listen to this audio book after watching Elegy a few years ago. The movie is a little bit more romantic than the book. Philip Roth is definitely trying to pursue the idea of flesh/body or what is more the animal body. Passion is what this animal body can withhold. The book is a mixture of well intended bibliography, modern family, drama, death and a most surprising sexuality. Roth at its best!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Philip Roth is one of those writers who, whilst I?ve dipped into Saul Bellow, got lost along the way and this novella represents and interesting short interlude and a useful entr?e to ?Elegy? which is out currently and directed by Spanish writer and film maker Isabel Coixet.
On first taste, this looks like deep dish misogyny and if the intention is to serve with a patina of irony I certainly missed it. Philip Roth is now seventy five years old and the character of David Kepesh is supposedly sixty two ? yet his cultural references, all standard 1960s fare do not have the flavour of someone who was in their late teens or very early twenties in the sixties. So what or where is the authentic voice here? A college lecturer with a Sunday morning culture show on TV??..come on, keep up?this is 2001. The whole breast/fetish thing looks and feels so very ?John Fowles? but without the post-modern construct to obscure the lack of meaningful characterisation, warmth or depth. The control/lust relationship between the two protagonists also seems a little pointless. The lack of emotion, feelings ? I can see it, I know what it is?love is absent...but what do I learn, what?s the point? John Updike cooks up the same ingredients with more flavour and satisfaction without turning out a souffl? of emotions.
I?ll look for the film adaptation, made by a female who at first glance appears more Consuela Castillo than David Kepesh. Perhaps the trick I?m missing is that Conseula is the chef de cuisine?only further investigation of Philip Roth will determine.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful