In 1951, the second year of the Korean War, a studious, law-abiding, and intense youngster from Newark, New Jersey, Marcus Messner, begins his sophomore year on the pastoral, conservative campus of Ohio's Winesburg College. And why is he there and not at a local college in Newark where he originally enrolled? Because his father, the sturdy, hardworking neighborhood butcher, seems to have gone mad - mad with fear and apprehension of the dangers of adult life, the dangers of the world, the dangers he sees on every corner for his beloved boy. Far from Newark, Marcus has to find his way amid the customs and constrictions of another American world.
Indignation, Philip Roth's 29th book, is a startling departure from the haunted narratives of old age and experience in Roth's recent books and a powerful exploration of a remarkable moment in American history.
©2008 Philip Roth (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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"Tight, beautiful and also strange and sad."
“Of a terrible, the incomprehensible way one's most banal, incidental, even comical choices archive the most disproportionate result.”
― Philip Roth, Indignation
There was a period when I hated Roth's small books. I loved his big, strong, hefty books. I thought DeLillo and Roth's novella periods were horrible indulgences; vanity projects meant to expel some small idea, some festering detail yet unexplored in their earlier masterpieces. A prose zit popping. I still think they are a bit indulgent and not as good as Roth and DeLillo's great works, but I guess as I get a bit older, I become less indignant of things that matter little, really.
Anyway, this novella moved up my list because several Roth books have recently been made into movies and this looked like one my wife and I would go to together. So, I brought home my small, beautiful, yet unread, autographed copy of Roth's 'Indignation'.
My wife read it first, and finished it. That was a good sign. She has a very low toleration for crap and where I MUST finish something, she has no problem abandoning a novel if it doesn't measure up to her minute-by-minute standards (this creates a bit of uncertainty in our marriage and keeps me on my toes). She felt it was a bit darker than she typically likes. Once, early in our marriage, my wife summarized my literary taste as "older white men with sexual issues". Obviously, reading Roth is bound to solidify that stereotype.
When I started reading the novel, I was tickled to find a bunch of not-so-subtle allusions to Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio. Anderson's book of related short stories seems to have been an inspiration, or at least a harbinger of, of this later Roth novella. While I don't love this book as much as Anderson's book, I still enjoyed it (as much as one can enjoy a book about death, loneliness, isolation, rigidity, and indignation). It was tight, beautiful, and also strange and sad. IT was a Philip Roth novella.
"The movie: see IT! Do NOT listen to this..."
Nope. I have been off Mr. Roth since Portnoy's Complaint, and this book reminds me of why I have neither read nor listened to anything of his for decades. He was remarkably immature when he wrote about masturbating into his family's dinner some forty years ago. In all this time, he has not grown up and out of his adolescent preoccupations. The semi-final scene in the book, which is set in a fictional town called Winesburg, Ohio, at the university there: the scene is actually a very large panty-raid by the male students! Panty raids? Are we still talking about shite like this in 2016?
Something very different from this.
Mr. Chase has very limited talents, a good match for the material, actually. He reads so fast that you can't keep up, and after a while you don't care to.
It is already a wonderful movie. See it. The stars are Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon. I had never heard of either, but they both are terrific. The movie is so much better than the book. It treats very complicated material with sensitivity. I won't spoil the plot for you, but I will say that these two young people fall in love very quickly at the ridiculously repressive University of Winesburg. The Dean of Men is a great villain: a self-righteous, bullying, intrusive, Jew-baiting, hyper-Christian who interrogates Marcus Messner as if he were already proven guilty of rape and other crimes against humanity. Sarah Gadon is a match for Lerman. Portraying a tormented young woman who, uh, surprises Marcus on their first date, she is utterly true in every scene.
Pretty obvious how much I enjoyed this, eh? Don't waste your money on the book, when the movie is being reviewed by some as the best drama of the year.
"Roth brings it!"
I liked the reader and the story kept me going on a long trip.
I liked the difference the characters of the book had to the idea of the ideal college student of the time of the book (the 50's)
Mr. Chase did a great job taking me through the book and through my long day of driving. His tone is strong and I enjoyed his speed and the way he brought Marcus into my car.
"Good bit not a showstopper"
Quick and interesting read. I think the character development for the movie might be better. I was left wanting more.
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