Wednesday, March 14, 2018


This much we know is true:  Henry is a 39-year-old dentist, married to Carol, and his older brother Nathan is a writer.  Everything else is fluid.  In the first section Henry has a heart condition, and his medication has rendered him impotent.  Surgery will resolve the heart condition, but the surgery is not without risk.  However, Henry is not sure life is worth living without sex—not sex with his wife but with his assistant.  Then the second section completely contradicts the outcome of the first section.  What is going on here?  Alternate realities?  Parallel universes?  In any case, Henry is now in Israel, having abandoned his family to become an “authentic Jew.”  The third section is the shortest and wildest—about hijacking a plane.  The fourth section is yet another contradiction but explains the first three sections—maybe.  I would give this novel 5 stars if it didn’t get bogged down occasionally.  Roth is a fantastic writer, even if he is obsessed with sex and being Jewish.  The subject matter is his usual stuff, but the format and twistiness are not, and they are what make this novel special.  If you’ve been put off or disappointed with his novels in the past, consider this one or The Plot Against America.

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