The documentary is not intended to "unmask" Philip Roth in the sense that you learn every possible thing about him. What the film unmasks is the solitary life of the writer, the life of one who has become, as Manera articulated, "a self-appointed slave to his writing."
To younger writers who are missing the boat, I want to say: Read Roth. Learn from his oeuvre and from his life, and from how the two have intersected. Learn how a writer can keep pace with America and tell its story as well as his own, again and again.
The film is more about Roth's work than his personal life, though Roth does describe his first marriage as being "lurid" and "derailing" him.
The title of this posting is a question that many readers are currently asking, and it's one that I and Jacques Berlinerblau recently discussed in our public interview, a salute to Philip Roth.
Philip Roth may be our greatest living writer. So why would he give himself over to filmmakers who would make a movie as dull, superficial and pedantic as Philip Roth: Unmasked?
Did I mention that he is a Hasidic Jew? Asher Lev makes Matisyahu look like beat-boxing was never meant for anything more racy than a bar mitzvah.
For all their hoopla and the effort that went into its development, Bookish is nothing more than a promotional vehicle for books produced by the three publishers funding the site, with an underpowered book recommendation gadget that's not ready for prime time.
Through Mr. Roth's words, the complex human soul -- yours, mine -- has been scrutinized. Through the vivid, ironic, sharp words of a genius who told us once: words, being words, only approximate the real thing.
So, Philip Roth is calling it quits after almost 60 years of writing. I don't want to suggest that Roth was being disingenuous about his retirement, but I do think that there is more going on than a mere statement of fact. After all, what writer announces his departure?
Roth calmly announced his retirement from fiction and the news reverberated all over the world. We were surprised. We didn't know what to think. We still believed that our favorite novelist would never stop writing novels. How can a writer stop writing?
For me as for several others across the globe, now and for ages to come, Philip Roth will ever remain a transgressive Columbus who ventured to navigate the choppy waters of selfhood
What we will miss the most -- what we fear we will mourn into perpetuity -- is the voice of Philip Roth himself. He has said he has given up the novel. But maybe he has not given up writing.
When I first read about Roth's retirement, I almost felt bereaved. The boundlessness of his wisdom is now finite. His announcement made me wonder whether it is time for me to move on as well -- to experience my personal life unmediated by words.
"If your book ain't wrote with ease, it's weak on the wet, brown breeze." You can thank me when you're prolific.
Dear Mr. Roth, please write. I'd like you to rage, rage against the dying of light. What happened to the legacy of our best grandparents, professors and crusty editors, skilled, in the arts of torment, demand and attitude?
Four books in five years. Not bad for a man over 70!
by Khaled Hosseini
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
by Ramona Ausubel
by Helene Wecker
Published on April 23rd, 2013