The Dying Animal

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tomca...@yanospamhoo.com

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Feb 16, 2003, 10:01:48 AM2/16/03
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I just finished Roth's "The Dying Animal", the last part of his David
Kepesh trilogy (I didn't read the others). It's the story of Kepesh's
(60-something) affair with Consuela, a 20-something Cuban hottie. The age
chasm causes Kepesh no end of jealousy (a new emotion for an old swinger),
because any one of Consuela's male friends could come and steal her:

"A young man will find her and take her away. I see him. I know him. I
know what he is capable of doing because he is me at twenty-five, as yet
without the wife and child; he is me in the raw, before I did what everybody
else did."

It's a short book, the sex scenes are good, he worries about death in
the end (sex is our (temporary) revenge on death - is Roth writing about
death more and more as he ages?). Some other thoughts:

Every Roth book I've read seems to have one masturbation scene, and one
gross-out scene.

The relationship between Kepesh, the libertine Dad, and his puritan son,
reminded me of Updike's Rabbit and his son. Roth says this inversion (normally
it's a libertine son rebelling) is as old as The Brother's Karamzov.

Sam Culotta

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Feb 17, 2003, 6:23:16 PM2/17/03
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<tomca...@yaNOSPAMhoo.com> wrote in message
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I read this book without having read the other Kapesh books either. Despite
the fact that I find Roth a great read for many reasons I'm not sure I got
all I could have out of this by not having read the earlier books.
Having had some familiarity with Zuckerman, I was able to enjoy American
Pastoral and Human Stain without reading I Married A Communist, which I
intend to read some day soon.
I'm sure Roth's delving into the psycho-sexual puts plenty of readers off,
but it's such a part of how he sees the world that it can't be undervalued.
For a hoot, have you read Sabbath's Theater? I hadn't read Roth in years
before picking up that book and it re-awakened my interest in him.

Roth seems to have retained the ability to shock us and to make us think
about the human condition.
I was a great fan of Updike for years but after he let Rabbit die he seemed
to lose his novelistic grip: a shame, because the Rabbit books were as good
an evocation of contemporary American society as I ever read.

Sam


tomca...@yanospamhoo.com

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Feb 18, 2003, 10:03:34 AM2/18/03
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Sam Culotta <culot...@gte.net> wrote:

> I'm sure Roth's delving into the psycho-sexual puts plenty of readers off,
> but it's such a part of how he sees the world that it can't be undervalued.
> For a hoot, have you read Sabbath's Theater? I hadn't read Roth in years
> before picking up that book and it re-awakened my interest in him.

I read Sabbath's Theater about a year ago, it was a great book, I got
the feeling that Roth was letting himself go all out. I'm not overly
interested in his horny professor/willing co-ed tales. I'm going
to try his "The Facts", which Amazon says is auto-biographical.

tomca...@yanospamhoo.com

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Feb 18, 2003, 12:20:15 PM2/18/03
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Sam Culotta <culot...@gte.net> wrote:

> I was a great fan of Updike for years but after he let Rabbit die he seemed
> to lose his novelistic grip: a shame, because the Rabbit books were as good
> an evocation of contemporary American society as I ever read.

The middle of the Rabbit trilogy was the weakest of the series - when he
takes up with the hippy chick and the angry black man. You'd think that
every dude's midlife crisis involved shagging a free-lover in the 60s!

Roth mentioned Telemachus in "Dying Animal". It's be a great novel
if he or Updike retold the story of a boy defending his mother's honor
until Daddy came home. "American Pastoral" won a Pulitzer, that also
might be worth looking into.

I tried Googling up a picture of Stanley Spencer's "Double Nude Portrait:
The Artist and his Second Wife" at the Tate, but it looks like it's
under copyright. :(

Sam Culotta

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Feb 18, 2003, 6:54:10 PM2/18/03
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<tomca...@yaNOSPAMhoo.com> wrote in message
news:b2tq0f$428$1...@news1.radix.net...

> Sam Culotta <culot...@gte.net> wrote:
>
> > I was a great fan of Updike for years but after he let Rabbit die he
seemed
> > to lose his novelistic grip: a shame, because the Rabbit books were as
good
> > an evocation of contemporary American society as I ever read.
>
> The middle of the Rabbit trilogy was the weakest of the series - when he
> takes up with the hippy chick and the angry black man. You'd think that
> every dude's midlife crisis involved shagging a free-lover in the 60s!

Well, I was in my 20's in the 60's and it seemed that was everybody's goal
was to shag a free-lover. Heady days, those 60's.


>
> Roth mentioned Telemachus in "Dying Animal". It's be a great novel
> if he or Updike retold the story of a boy defending his mother's honor
> until Daddy came home.<

Now that you mention it, it seems that someone or more did. I'll have to
think about this and get back to you if I recall the work.


"American Pastoral" won a Pulitzer, that also
> might be worth looking into.

I really enjoyed American Pastoral..not least of all for the narrative
layering: Roth/Zimmerman/"Swede" Levov. He uses a similar approach in Human
Stain.
Quite a craftsman.

Sam

Sam Culotta

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Feb 18, 2003, 7:05:37 PM2/18/03
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tomcatpolka wrote:

> The middle of the Rabbit trilogy was the weakest of the series - when he
> takes up with the hippy chick and the angry black man. You'd think that
> every dude's midlife crisis involved shagging a free-lover in the 60s!<

Oh, yes...Updike.

You come to expect some sort of sexual excess in everything he writes. In
the last Rabbit book the aging cad manages to boink his daughter-in-law. I
found it unplausible, but not surprising; in fact, I was waiting for it to
happen.
U. has a sexual obsession reserved for the most righteous. In a book
written about him, titled "U" or something like that, the author relates an
instance of Updike doing nasty things to his friend's wife in the back seat
as they are returning from a ski trip. His wife was in the front seat at
the time.

You rascal, U.

Sam

<tomca...@yaNOSPAMhoo.com> wrote in message
news:b2tq0f$428$1...@news1.radix.net...


> Sam Culotta <culot...@gte.net> wrote:
>
> > I was a great fan of Updike for years but after he let Rabbit die he
seemed
> > to lose his novelistic grip: a shame, because the Rabbit books were as
good
> > an evocation of contemporary American society as I ever read.
>
>

Rich Clancey

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Mar 4, 2003, 7:57:29 AM3/4/03
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tomca...@yanospamhoo.com wrote:
+ I read Sabbath's Theater about a year ago, it was a great book, I got
+ the feeling that Roth was letting himself go all out. I'm not overly
+ interested in his horny professor/willing co-ed tales. I'm going
+ to try his "The Facts", which Amazon says is auto-biographical.

I haven't read Roth in many years. His early stuff (Goodbye
Columbus, When She Was Good, and a collection of stories I don't
recall the name of) was quite memorable. Then we got Portnoy's
Complaint. I was working in a bookstore in New York at the time,
and we would just keep cases of P's C next to the counter,
hadning them over without bothering to put them on display. I
never saw a book move so quickly, and for months. Every Jewish
lady over the age of 50 in New York bought a copy, and that was
about 90% of our customers for that book. I finally caved in and
read the thing. Mildly amusing, but more therapy than literature
I thought. Somehow, I couldn't get back to caring about his
writing after that. Eventually he apparently began detailing the
highly important area of Professors lusting after Students. I'm
sure he has plenty of insight into this central concern of human
experience, but I find myself not caring.

--
rich clancey r...@world.std.com

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