Why I’m in love with Philip Roth

Why I’m in love with Philip Roth

portnoys_complaintSo, you say, maybe you shouldn’t declare your love for an author when you’ve only read one of his books. And maybe I shouldn’t. But I am.

And here, in a series of quotes, is why. I sure as hell hope my mother doesn’t read this.

The bus, the bus, what intervened on the bus to prevent me from coming all over the sleeping shikse‘s arm – I don’t know. Common sense, you think? Common decency? My right mind, as they say, coming to the fore? Well, where is this right mind on that afternoon I came home from school to find my mother out of the house, and our refrigerator stocked with a big purplish piece of raw liver? I believe that I have already confessed to the piece of liver that I bought in a butcher shop and banged behind a billboard on the way to a bar mitzvah lesson. Well, I wish to make a clean breast of it, Your Holiness. That – she – it – wasn’t my first piece. My first piece I had in the privacy of my own home, rolled round my cock in the bathroom at three-thirty – and then had again on the end of a fork, at five-thirty, along with the other members of that poor innocent family of mine.

So. Now you know the worst thing I have ever done. I fucked my own family’s dinner.

Oh God, my eyes were tearing up as I read that. In the writing lab. EM#4 (the good one, if you have any idea what I’m talking about) asked me what was so funny, and I couldn’t tell him. I just couldn’t. He had, incidentally, asked me if I believe in God only two days before, and I had already disappointed him once.

On to #2. And this one’s especially terrible! Here’s the setup: Lina, the prostitute, has just had sex a few times with Alex and his girlfriend, The Monkey. Here’s what happens afterward:

So Lina – not a person overly sensitive to interpersonal struggle – lay back on the pillow beside me and began to tell us all about herself. The bane of existence was the abortions. She was the mother of one child, a boy, with whom she lived on Monte Mario (“in a beautiful new building,” The Monkey translated). Unfortunately she could not manage, in her situation, any more than one – “though she loves children” – and so was always in and out of the abortionist’s office. Her only precautionary device seemed to be a spermicidal douche of no great reliability.”

Okay, I know it’s not funny. Except it is. Except I can’t help myself.

Only two more. You can make it! Be a trooper!

I’m not even going to explain this one:

“Sarah, the best safeguard against asphyxiation is breathing. Just breathe, and that’s all there is to it. More or less.”

Just one more. I won’t explain this one either, though it’s not too difficult to figure out:

“As it turns out, you can’t stick tapioca pudding into anything.”


And there you have it. This, dear readers, is Why I Am in Love with Philip Roth. And what might it say about me, you ask? No comment. I would volunteer to be his Monkey, but someone would get the wrong idea…

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Indices, etc, coming soon!