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The Counterlife Paperback – 6 Oct 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (6 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099481359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099481355
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Roth is a comic genius... In this book (wonderfully sharp, worryingly intense) he is an electrifier" (Martin Amis)

"Unquestionably his masterpiece" (John Banville)

"Boisterously serious, dense, fizzing and formally audacious... The final thing that needs to be said about The Counterlife...is that it's fucking funny" (Julian Barnes London Review of Books)

"No other writer combines such a surface of colloquial relaxation with such a dense load of mediating intelligence - Roth has never written more scrupulously or, in spots, more lovingly" (John Updike New Yorker)

"Magnificent...splendid... I hope The Counterlife felt, as Mr. Roth wrote it, like a triumph, because that is certainly how it reads to me" (New York Times Book Review)

Book Description

Reissued in electric new backlist style for October 2016, The Counterlife was lauded by the likes of John Updike, Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, John Banville and James Wood, as well as winning the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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Great fun!
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Format: Paperback
excellent
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