Human Stain

I could quote Roth, great big chunks of what I just read and you would see the charm of his immaculate, robust prose. Zuckerman's voice in the Human Stain is as sure and as compelling as your Pallakad aunt telling you how she lives her life. You can read the first chapter here.

The only other Roth I have ever read is Goodbye Columbus. While I thought it was very funny that is not this great feast of a book. This is a book that I bought yesterday, finished half an hour ago and desire to EAT.

The plot is strong and astonishing. I was reading at my usual stupid gallop and had to screech to a halt when the 'plot mein twist' happened. Zuckerman's commentary on America in the 1990s is gorgeous. The book begins with Zuckerman's contemptous discussion of America's righteous indignation over the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, makes larger statements for America persecuting zeal and mania for purity.

I am also grateful for another thing. Recently I read Paul Auster's Oracle Night and Ian McEwan's Saturday and their descriptions of sex bored me to tears in an identical manner. Both are books where the male protagonist spends great portions of the book speculating about their wives but their wives and opaque. The sexual relationships were bland products of a schoolboy's imagination. Where is the power, the tug and pull? never mind. What can I say? Because we have Roth who gets it all perfectly. The central relationship between Coleman and Faunia comes alive in some wonderful passages. Zuckerman who is Coleman's friend and the narrator has his own pungent remarks to make which made me roll about laughing.

"My point is that by moving here I had altered deliberately my relationship to the sexual caterwaul, and not because the exhortations or, for that matter, my erections had been effectively weakened by time, but because I couldn't meet the costs of its clamoring anymore, could no longer marshal the wit, the strength, the patience, the illusion, the irony, the ardor, the egoism, the resilience-or the toughness, or the shrewdness, or the falseness, the dissembling, the dual being, the erotic professionalism-to deal with its array of misleading and contradictory meanings."

I rejoice that there are a dozen other Roths for me to read.

PS. Anthony Hopkins as Coleman and Nicole Kidman as Faunia? What a joke.

PSPSPS. An article that you should definitely read AFTER reading the book because it will ruin the book for you: Roth's inspiration


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