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Roth Unbound Hardcover – 2 Jan 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (2 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224099035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224099035
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 320,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Roth Unbound has two particularly strong selling points. It is the first full-length study to be published since Roth’s announcement that Nemesis would be his final novel. It is therefore the first to cover what currently looks to be his entire oeuvre... Secondly, Roth has made himself available as a commentator on – if not wholly a collaborator with – Pierpont's project, with the result that her account of his life and works is supplemented with marginal illuminations from her subject himself." (Bharat Tandon Literary Review)

"A celebration… an illuminating companion to Roth's work." (Economist)

"The first study of the complete oeuvre... Roth collaborated with [Pierpont], answering questions, contributing asides as she writes. The effect is surreal. Ten pages of Pierpont’s sparky prose can go by without interruption. Then she’ll say, “Speaking today about this encounter, Roth remarks...” as if the great man has been sitting by her side all the time, peering to see the sentences unfold, his breath in her ear." (John Walsh Sunday Times)

"[Pierpont] binds the books to the man not by mining them for nuggets of autobiographical information but by talking to Roth himself about what he put into them, by which she doesn’t mean the facts, but the territory of imagination and self that creates fiction... What Pierpont has achieved is to defeat speculation. Whatever we think we know, turns out to be wrong." (Linda Grant Independent)

"Pierpont knows her (somewhat inaccessible) subject and has punctuated her narrative with conversational snippets. A must for fans." (Rachel Cooke Observer)

Book Description

A critical evaluation of Philip Roth – the first of its kind – that takes on the man, the myth, and the work

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'd say I'm a semi-fan of Roth. I've read probably most of his later works but not even a quarter of his entire catalogue, so I approached this volume with a mix of interest and a thought of "why am I reading this?" A strange combination to start with and it got worse in the early chapters. I've never been one for reading about the childhood part of a biography or autobiography unless it directly points to the future of the subject. I personally found most of Roth's "early years" to not reveal much about the man and author he became (save some parts relating to his relationship with his parents, particularly his mother.) This aside, I found the book a great companion to the Roth I've already read and the Roth I've yet to read. The narrative blended the life of Roth with the writings of Roth and gave insight into what he was going through and how this came through in his writings. Pierpont clearly likes Roth as a person and a writer but doesn't let this get in the way of her writing a biography that isn't afraid to point out the times where Roth may have strayed off the path of absolute virtue. A real pleasure to read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An absolutely superb summary of Roth's life and novels. I really can't praise it too highly - I was fascinated by the insights into Roth's disastrous marriage(s), the controversies about his alleged misogyny and his relationships with writers such as Updike and Bellow.

What I loved most was the author's ability to explain Roth's books without resorting to impenetrable literary criticism. A must for anyone who has loved Roth's American Trilogy, Portnoy's Complaint - or really anyone interested in the life and works of a great author
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Format: Paperback
Claudia Roth Pierpont's critical biography of Philip Roth is both critically astute and a biography of the writer. As a friend of Roth, she never veers into flattery, nor does she damn him for being so strong willed and opinionated. She seems to know him for what he is, and he is something else.

I got this book two days after I started the biography of Updike, another favourite. I read the first few chapters, felt a bit bored so I picked it up and read. I could not put it down. Roth actually helped with the book - that is pretty unusual, but it works rather well. He takes a more detached view of himself and his accomplishments than you might expect, and she is an honest and clever critic. She does not accept the idea of Roth's 'misogyny' - she points out his lifelong friendships with women, his ability to let everyone 'have it' and his real life experiences that abound in his fiction are undeniable. Roth writes best about his own colourful life, full of ups and downs, events and moods, illnesses and affairs.

The critical part is very good - she gets his early period, with its successes and failures. The middle period is her favourite - not mine - as it is too adventurous and self-referential. I prefer the later Roth - Sabbath's Theatre, American Pastoral, Human Stain especially - and enjoyed the horrific late, late show that is Nemesis, Everyman, etc. that drew Roth's writing to a close.

Roth's range seems very wide in retrospect. Certainly wider than Updike (who he revered) and Bellow (one core inspiration), if not as refined. He reminds me, at his best, of the smartest guy in the room, who collars you and verbally assaults you. You almost want to hit him to get him to stop, but it is all so compelling, you just shut up and take it all in.

He is a favourite of mine - and now, I appreciate him all the more.
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Pending the great new biography on which he is working with Blake Bailey, this is an excellent survey of Roths life and works. For those who have read his books it is a useful aide memoire to their content and has considerable value as a pointer to those works which one has not read but which may now recommend themselves.
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This is a 'must' for all lovers of Philip Roth's books. I came out of it even more enamoured of his writing and, if it was possible, slightly less liking the man. Claudia Roth Pierpont hints that a biography is on the way, presumably written by herself. If so, she is preparing well.
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