Apr. 19th, 2009

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Philip Roth – I married a communist

My introduction to the author who has been mentioned as a potential Nobel Prize winner since years was The plot against America (my review). I was pleasantly surprised. It was a great book, the ‘what if’ theory went really well and by writing fiction, Roth managed to give me a great insight into American society at the time.

I was hoping for a similar experience when I found this book in a second hand store in a small village on the Cape peninsula, South Africa. It stood on my shelf, proudly waiting for the moment it was read. Early this year I started it. Months later I finished it. Somehow the book never managed to drag me in, to grab my attention, to seduce me to reading longer than anticipated.

It just dragged. On the other hand, it was interesting enough to continue reading. It has some good characters; the era (post second world war United States) is an interesting one. I like reading about the time when everything that wasn’t really patriotic was denounced as Communism. It almost seemed that hardly anyone in the US knew exactly what a Communist stood for, though everyone knew exactly that the big enemy, the Soviet Union was the evil empire and that anyone even considering the merits of Communism therefore was a spy (read: McCarthyism)

Given that background, it is very interesting to read how a well-known radio actor ends up on the wrong side of the community when his former wife writes a book with the title ‘I married a communist’. As an outlaw it is difficult to build your own life.

Though beyond all that, Roth never manages to write that exciting story that makes me not want to put the book down, that I find myself reading at 2am, knowing that the alarm clock will wake me up within five hours.

Quote: "Those guys gave you the distinct impression that World War II was being fought to spite them. Contrary to what some people may think about our darling boys, they didn’t have the slightest notion, didn’t know what the hell they were there for, didn’t give a shit about fascism, about Hitler – what did they care?" (p.130)

Number: 09-013
Title: I married a communist
Author: Philip Roth
Language: English (US)
Year: 1998
# Pages: 323 (2782)
Category: Fiction
ISBN: 0-0992-8783-8

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