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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "We are all each other's authors"
'The Counterlife' doesn't really 'fit in' to the Roth canon in the same way that a lot of his books do, which is probably one of the reasons it ranks among his best. But let's try...

"Kicking off with a slice of doomed sexual adventure that recalls the abrupt, majestic realism of 'The Human Stain', the novel ends up nearer the manic playful energy of 'Operation...
Published on 2 Jun 2009 by M. Witcombe

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Counterlife
Jewish story from a Jew's point of view. Hard to begin but once you're in you're taken by the story.
Published 14 months ago by Offe Alison


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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "We are all each other's authors", 2 Jun 2009
By 
M. Witcombe "Slazey" (Southampton) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Counterlife (Paperback)
'The Counterlife' doesn't really 'fit in' to the Roth canon in the same way that a lot of his books do, which is probably one of the reasons it ranks among his best. But let's try...

"Kicking off with a slice of doomed sexual adventure that recalls the abrupt, majestic realism of 'The Human Stain', the novel ends up nearer the manic playful energy of 'Operation Shylock', with a dollop of the character-study astuteness of 'Sabbath's Theatre' thrown in. Oh, and don't forget the cunningness of 'Deception'.

It's odd- as dense as it undoubtedly is, it can also serve as a good all-round introduction to Roth's work."

Confused? I'll try a less referential approach:

"The real genius of 'The Counterlife' lies in its subversive rendering of fiction as biography. 'Operation Shylock', a later novel, takes the idea of the double and takes it to the limit of comic absurdity, whereas 'The Counterlife' multiplies itself indefinately, ending up as an anarchic mess that refuses to be pinned down, that refuses to 'tell it straight'. Yet, somehow, it holds together. It works.

However, this is not a novel for those seeking a linear plot line with stable character and tidy storylines. This is a frustrating novel, a maddening novel. A novel that demands you take it seriously- then laughs at you for doing so. Which isn't to say its without pathos, or richly-drawn characters, or that it simply careers from extreme to extreme. Its playfulness is the consequence of its sense of frustration at the insufficiency of a simple, linear series of events. And the novel's wariness of 'truth' masks a structure as clinical and precise as the operation that becomes its core event."

Both of my attempts may sound like so much literary waffle, but there's no easy way to describe this novel- nothing stable enough to fix praise on. But surely there can be no higher recommendation than being as lost for words as the book itself is lost in them?

Whatever- it's amazing, read it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Counterlife, 8 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Counterlife (Hardcover)
Jewish story from a Jew's point of view. Hard to begin but once you're in you're taken by the story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 5 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Counterlife (Paperback)
Great fun!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 23 Oct 2014
This review is from: The Counterlife (Paperback)
excellent
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Roth, 3 Oct 2011
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This review is from: The Counterlife (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book, Roth still writes interesting fiction after all these years, if you like him you will like this
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Roth lets himself down, too clever and in the end boring., 9 Sep 2009
By 
Ransen Owen (Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Counterlife (Paperback)
I've read and loved many Philip Roth books, The Human Stain, American Pastoral etc. But this book was disappointing because it was so confusing and "clever". As you read you are never sure if you are reading the invented story or a brother about another brother or the confessions of one brother to another, or lies lies lies.

Which means that, in the end, you don't care what happens.
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The Counterlife
The Counterlife by Philip Roth (Paperback - 6 Oct 2005)
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