A companion volume that enhances appreciation of the novel.



A spirited engagement with the 1969 breakthrough novel that brought Philip Roth both renown and notoriety.

It would be easy to form misleading impressions from this critical analysis of Portnoy’s Complaint. The fact that it’s an academic study from a celebrated university press might suggest that this book would drain all the fun from Portnoy. To the contrary, this critical work, written by a friend of the author, is very much in the spirit of the book to which it responds. Harvard Business Review contributing editor Avishai (The Hebrew Republic: How Secular Democracy and Global Enterprise Will Bring Israel Peace at Last, 2008, etc.) ventures far and wide over literary, philosophical and other cultural touchstones, providing a context for Roth’s novel that encompasses James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Jackson Pollock and Judd Apatow. Avishai proves both an informed and engaging guide to the novel and its legacy. In a deft turn of critical praise, he writes of the novel’s expressing “the dirt of desire after the hygiene of childhood.” He explains how the novel is very much of its time yet transcends its time, and of how it has been perceived as quintessentially Jewish yet is ultimately emancipating in the way it resonates so far beyond the Jewish experience. Drawing on interviews with Roth and access to his notes, Avishai deals with the issue that has long been central to Roth: the blurring of fact and fiction, of novel and confession. Avishai builds a strong case that Portnoy is not Roth, and that the protagonist might even be the object of the author’s satire, along with psychoanalysis and pretty much everything else the novel addresses. “The joke was on everybody—parents, lovers, tribes, patients, psychoanalysts—which is another way of saying it was on the act of reading itself,” he writes, while elsewhere describing the progression of Portnoy “from a great farce into an unnerving mystery.”

A companion volume that enhances appreciation of the novel.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-300-15190-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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