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By Everett Leiter on 08-25-10
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
By Darwin8u on 05-21-18
Roth's Death in Venice
“The only obsession everyone wants: 'love.' People think that in falling in love they make themselves whole? The Platonic union of souls? I think otherwise. I think you're whole before you begin. And the love fractures you. You're whole, and then you're cracked open.”
― Philip Roth, The Dying Animal
The Dying Animal is the last instalment of Roth's David Kepesh novels. Isn't top-shelf Roth (American Trilogy), but isn't bad either. Of the Kepesh novels, I think it ranks above The Breast (think 36D Kafka) and below The Professor Of Desire. I think my subconcious understood, even before reading this novel, where Roth was coming from because what I thought was a random reading order for me: 1. Death in Venice and then 2. The Dying Animal, was actually quite useful. It isn't as much a tribute to Death in Venice as the Breast was a tribute to Kafka's Metamorphosis, but there were certainly similarities. Roth is exploring death and obscession of an artist, so in those ways it is a similar novella to Mann's earlier exploration (see my review). However, instead of the aging author/narrator being obsessed with a "perfect" 14-year-old boy, Kepesh* is obsessed with one of his Cuban student's perfect breasts. With a writer like Roth, it is hard to realize where the autobiography starts and where the fictionalizing ends. But it appears that AT LEAST Kepesh is a breast man. Another aspect of Roth is his brutal honesty about desires, impulses, and actions. Things others would hide, Roth flaunts. I think many (including my wife) feel he is a mysoginst. I would agree that Kepesh is. But Roth is a writer of fiction. He is exploring and discesting parts of American Culture that are indeed ugly, narcissistic, rough. But again, with Roth it is always difficult to know.
* I just saw I originally put Roth here. See?!?
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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By rosu on 04-13-13
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
By Welsh Mafia on 09-06-08
Kepesh or Kaput???
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