"Still, if some readers will be lured (or put off) by Roth's roman clef specifics, others will be drawn to the Chinese-box ironies (Zuckerman yearning to escape 'self' in '73, Roth at the summit of 'self' in '83)—and to the squirming spectacle of a writer trying to find a bearable approach for fictional self-examination, trying to defend himself and crucify himself at the same time."
Zuckerman in pain—physical pain, psychic pain, existential pain—as Roth continues to follow his nakedly, overbearingly autobiographical alter-ego: what was high art in The Ghost Writer became a glossy, so-so hybrid in Zuckerman Unbound. . . and has now become something intermittently powerful or funny, strangely fascinating, yet grimly embarrassing, It's 1973.
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