Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Book Review

The Ghost WriterThe Ghost Writer by Philip Roth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's a simple plot; a young writer pays an overnight visit to an old writer, his idol, and gets caught up in a bit of domestic drama. The characters are complex and complicated, neither terribly heroic or terribly villainous. The ebb and flow of things, things said and un-said, things admirable to one person are foibles to another. All this is really well done, but I didn't like it. Roth seems to be borrowing a plot from Henry James and quotes a novel of James', but he's lacking the tension of James' closeted homosexuality. That unrequited energy of James' that seeps out into the atmosphere of everything around it isn't present in Roth's writing.

There's also a musing about Anne Frank and how she might feel about her story and fame if she were alive today, which is really interesting, but feels just plunked down almost arbitrarily into the middle of this. Roth knew and admired Saul Bellow and I don't like him either. I read Humbolt's Gift and promised myself I wouldn't have to read another Bellow book ever. So this just isn't my taste, but you might like it.

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