Wednesday, July 05, 2006


I was eager to read Philip Roth's new novella, Everyman, having thoroughly enjoyed his 2004 Plot Against America. Silly me. There is no comparison. The new book is 182 small pages of one man evaluating his rather full life (and his deteriorating body, in roughly equal portions) and finding both pathetic.

Everyman is named after the medieval morality play, and both works remind us that "you can't take it with you." In the classic's case, beauty, wealth, wisdom, even family remain behind, and only one's acts of love endure when we leave for the big banquet in the sky. In Roth's writing, his hero loses it all, too, but he never got his invitation to the final party. Life boils down to clogged arteries and frustrated longings. "Death is death and nothing more." If this is the Everyman for our times, heaven help us!


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