Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What Are They Reading? Letting Go by Philip Roth

Authors tend to be readers, so it is natural for them to create characters who like to read.  It is always interesting to me to read what books the characters are reading in the books I read. Even if I can't say that ten times fast.

Usually, the characters' choice of books reflects the author's tastes or, I sometimes think, what the author was reading at the time.  But sometimes the character's reading material is a clue to the character's personality, or is even a part of the story. 

This is an occasional blog event. If anyone wants to join in, feel free to leave a comment with a link to your related post. And feel free to use the button.  If this catches on, I can pick a day and make it a weekly event.


Letting Go was Roth's first novel, published when he was only 29, but after he won the National Book Award (for the first time) for Goodbye, Columbus (reviewed here).

Letting Go catches flak for being long and more traditional than Roth's later books.  I am only about halfway through it and I don't care how long it is. I want it to go on and on.

Letting Go is the story of Gabe Wallach, a college professor, and his relationship with Paul and Libby Herz, from when they meet at graduate school in Iowa and then work together in Chicago.  The main plot is broken into side stories and set pieces, including those about Gabe's father, Paul's parents, and Gabe's girlfriend Martha.

Since Gabe and Paul are both English professors, it is no surprise that the characters in Letting Go read and talk about books.  Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady plays a big role in the first section of the book, as Gabe and Libby build an awkward, sexually charged friendship out of their discussions of James's masterpiece. 


1 comment :

  1. I haven't read this Roth book, but now I must! And I love it when characters in books read something that I've read or want to read.


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