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This collection of stories is splendid Unbelievable that they were the very first ones Roth published as they are already so evocative and polished If you were put off by Roth because you only read Portnoy s Complaint or Sabbath s Theater, you should read this book to see that there is a whole other side to Roth and a beautiful sensitivity as well.RIP 1933 2018 One of America s literary giants has left us. If Truman Capote s Breakfast at Tiffany s is the New York novella about flirting with the city s upper crust, then Philip Roth s Goodbye, Columbus is the suburban story for the rest of us.A coming of age story about a summer romance, it plumbs tensions from class, generational, religious, and educational differences, and it does so in a way that is instinctive and visceral While not the most self aware, sensitive, or rational, the story s characters Neil Klugman, a twenty three year old man from the poor neighborhoods of Newark, and Brenda Patimkin, the privileged and pretty young woman from Short Hills are caught in the throes of imminent adulthood, and their flailing pulls Roth s readers further and further into the personal tensions that drive the story.The result is that Goodbye, Columbus is about as human a novella as I know human in the character s confusion about their feelings and human in their often irrational responses to these feelings Do I recommend itYes A complex but natural read Would I teach itYes, but it would have to be to the right group The writing is rich with meaning and ripe for discussion, but some of the content though a remarkably small amount of it might seem dated or awkward Lasting impressionTightly and creatively constructed, Goodbye, Columbus offers sharp insight into and humor about the vicissitudes of burgeoning adult romance.
Roth is basically a cosmic anomaly He wins Major Award 1 out of like, a dozen TOTAL the National Book Award for this, his freshman effort, thereby launching his oeuvre, his unique contributions to the zeitgeist, his Master s talent CONFIDENCE But does it deserve it For the future career of this literary cosmonaut, yes but as a stand alone debut Absolutely not It is a love story of a I m this type of Jew but you are this type of Jew variety Historically significant, yet overrated, overpraised I suppose Know it exists, says me Don t read it i.e On the Road, Under the Volcano, Tropic of Cancer, Mao II et al As for the accompanying stories well, this is Philip Roth So although we do get the rotten novella out of the way in the beginning , the short stories are very good Earlier Roth is way playful here than anything that comes later you hardly ever laugh in any of his dramatic American tragedies dare I say, picaresque Two of the stories are even about childhood, which we NEVER really see in his beloved novels Kinda reminds me of another premiere writer, Mario Vargas Llosa His own short story collection at the beginning of his career, The Cubs and Other Stories, likewise portrays children and childhood what it is to be green in something one day you will master What it is to give up forays into shortstoryland for a titanic career as novelist Roth s five s.s are all ambitious, topical, jarring even funny this is, again, like soooo rare for Roth important to the fabric of American history hyperbole, maybePS RIP Curiously, the darkness seemed to have something to do with Harriet, Ron s intended, and I thought for a time that it was simply the reality of Harriet s arrival that had dramatized the passing of time we had been talking about it and now suddenly it was here just as Brenda s departure would be here before we knew it Goodbye, ColumbusHow often do I think of the passing of time in this way, as Roth describes it in this poignant, wistful and utterly beautiful book Goodbye, Columbus already shows a master s hand in his debut It s not about a love affair or class and social differences so much as it is about the passing of time The love affair, which is supposed to be so ecstatic, is tinged constantly with the sad realization of its ending The whole story is pervaded by a sense of inevitability and loss That the outcome can be nothing but loss It s as if the loss has already happened.The sense of place, of the arid stasis of dependency, the outsider, the fish out of waterall captured so perfectly.Some will likely fixate, wrongheadedly IMO, on the dated elements eg., the colored boy , the diaphragm, the parental shock over premarital sex So be it.The part that really brought tears to my eyes was when Brenda s brother, Ron, the clueless athlete being seemingly ushered into a marriage to please all parties, listens to a record album of his glory days as a basketball star Again, the sense of something bygone, the glory days behind one already at such a young age Now hustled into the banal mandates of social expectation Ron laying on the bed, drinking in the last of his youth for the last time This moved me so much I could hear the record album Roth describes it so perfectly Like everything else in the novella, it flies off the page for me.But I initially delved into this svelte volume of early works by first reading one of the five additional short stories, Defender of the Faith, on recommendation of a young reading pal As I read it I wondered if this piece was where all the charges of Roth being a self hating Jew had begun, and as I read on Wikipedia, it apparently was.So, Roth dares to look at things with complexity than black and white and eschews neat and childish political boundaries and simplistic feel good categories All the reason to show the man some respect.The story was superb.The man writes like an angel, as a friend once put it.The short stories Each is splendid in its way All dealing with Jewish assimilation in post war WWII USA Defender of the Faith and Eli, the Fanatic are the two longest ones, about 40 50pp each The latter is an interesting tale with some tinge of magical realism about assimilation vs tradition Jews in postwar America not wanting to upset the apple cart in the land that has treated them best of all the places on earth in their long struggle for peace feeling shame about their orthodox past being out in the open in small town America Eli is a lawyer sent by his own assimilated colleagues to send the old school Jews packing but he tries to affect a compromise, sensing the injustice and feeling guilty about his own role in the process The impending birth of his son elicits issues of continuity, tradition and self identity as a Jew The idea of a suit, not just as an outer piece of cloth than can be exchanged or replaced, but as an external manifestation of one s inner identity, etc Good stuff Epstein, another of the longer stories, tells of the mid life crisis of a hardworking Jewish breadwinner seemingly disrespected at home and tortured by a sense of life passing him by all around him The inevitable lure of an affair, You Can t Tell a Man by the Song He Sings This one, honestly didn t do much for me, but it was fun Conversion of the Jews A cute story about magical revelations stemming from a boy s act of questioning and rebellion Violence should not be a part of imparting faith on children, etc.In all of the stories, Roth s characters are not heroic, they are human and contradictory Some people have trouble wrapping their heads around this.All the stories in this book should be read, not just Goodbye, Columbus. Come on did anyone really doubt that this would get a full five stars from me I mean, seriously but if you want to find out WHY it still deserves 5 5 stars a full 60 years after its first publication, you can read my review on my blog here. Is it any wonder that Philip Roth is one of the most awarded authors to ever live This, his first book, is written so well, that it almost doesn t matter what the stories there s one novella and a handful of short stories are about Reading Mr Roth is like fine dining Nobody expects some unthinkable twist at the end of a delicious meal That said, Mr Roth s endings do not disappoint These are incredibly well written stories that I d recommend to anybody wanting to see English put to its best use. Okay, so this is finally happening I assumed I d have some overpowering reaction to this now that I was finally reading it I only read the novella, not the other stories , but I didn t Now I guess I get why people like Philip Roth so much he s a terrific writer, and I enjoyed reading this book I got a little bored halfway through, nothing serious, but I wasn t as crazy about it as I was at the start and didn t itch to pick it back up when I d happened to set it down.I feel embarrassed and bad about myself that I don t have anything urgent I need to say about this Again, it was very good, though the only thing I think will really stick with me is how glad I am not to be female in the nineteen fifties. Roths s earlier books are fresh, humorous and vibrant compared to his recent work that is self obsessed with aging, potency and dying Goodbye Columbus is just such a vibrant collection that portrays, with humour, the angst of the Jews in New Jersey, transplanted from the recent Holocaust, and trying to find their place in the New World, hindered by a Socialist past, yet striving to become part of the Capitalist ideal In the title story a poor boy meets rich girl who was once poor but can t remember it novella, a coming of age story and a bidding goodbye to the protected world of university days the innocence of growing up in the 50 s comes out A young couple driving in the Lincoln Tunnel on a secret mission are doing nothing serious than having a diaphragm fitted, unknown to their parents whereas contemporary literature would insinuate a diabolical purpose involving drugs, bombs or homicide The Jewish family structure is placed under the microscope when the brother of the rich girl is forced to marry and join the family home renovation business in order to earn a living, just because he has knocked up his girlfriend When the extended family assembles for the wedding party, the dysfunction of an upwardly mobile family is laid bare Uncle Leo Patimkin is by far the most interesting character, a travelling salesman, who has been left behind in the social climbing and has a lot to say about it, especially after a few bottles of champagne.In the following five shorter pieces, themes of guilt, separatism, survival, assimilation and neuroticism typical challenges facing the newcomer play out In the Conversion of the Jews, a young Jew exploits his Rabbi and mother s guilt over being responsible for his impending suicide by getting them to accept that divine births are possible if they believe in an omnipotent God In Defender of the Faith, a Jewish army recruit cloyingly inveigles special privileges from his also Jewish sergeant and uses strategic lies to gain advantage In Epstein, we see the classic immigrant who built himself up from scratch, now in middle age, trying to boost his sex life with a bit on the side and falling outside the norms established for his people, with disastrous consequences You Can Tell a Man by the Song He Sings pits the incumbent ex con American schoolboy against a brainy Jewish kid, where the moral of the story is that those who have been in the can know how to wreak their revenge and yet stay out of trouble compared to those naive ones who play by the rule book The final story, Eli the Fanatic, is the most powerful, for it deals with the issue of assimilation and posits the question that it is the responsibility of both the incumbent and the outsider to make inclusion work Eli s plunge into neurosis and nervous breakdown signals to us that in 1950 s America this assimilation was still a long way off.For a book released in the 1950 s this collection must have been a rather candid piece of literature, and I m sure as much as Roth caught America s attention with it, he must have lost some fans among the Jewish diaspora The mourning of one s woes in public, at the expense of patient listeners, the fact that Jewish men at 23 were expected to live at home with their parents, that pre marital sex even with a diaphragm was considered grounds for family upheaval, and that even the military had to accommodate for Kosher food, must have been uncomfortable skeletons to be aired for upwardly mobile Jews trying to make it in the New World and become part of the mainstream And yet, these practices may be considered quite normal today, given that we have public social media to reveal our most intimate gripes, unemployed young people are returning to parental homes in droves, sexual abstinence is making a comeback, and the military is bending over backwards to accommodate diversity in its ranks I found the typical stylistic flaws of the writer in the early stages of his career some scenes and situations are difficult to visualize and the narrative is unwieldy in places Roth s later work is polished, but he seems to have acquired that polish at the expense of sacrificing that in your face humour that oozes out of Goodbye Columbus, making it an excellent read. (DOWNLOAD PDF) õ Goodbye, Columbus: And Five Short Stories Ö Neil Klugman And Pretty, Spirited Brenda Patimkin He Of Poor Newark, She Of Suburban Short Hills Meet One Summer And Dive Into An Affair That Is As Much About Social Class And Suspicion As It Is About Love The Novella, The First Book Published By Phillip Roth, Explores Issues Of Both Class And Jewish Assimilation Into American Culture It Won The National Book Award In Phillip Roth P This is probably the fourth time I ve read this book and every time I do, it feels like I m reliving falling in love for the first time all over again I chose Goodbye, Columbus as a read aloud book to share with someone special and hearing or speaking Roth s words made me much aware of the humor and the cadence of the New Jersey Jewish speech Aunt Gladys is the Jewish aunt I never had and I want her to nag and fuss over me too.It is a story about loss and longing, the ending of things, bottomless bowls of fruit, the public library, lust, love, and swimming pools It s also about fitting in, not fitting in, fear of being trapped, outdated sexual s, social climbing, and young adult angst It definitely shows Roth as a skilled young writer Leo Patimkin, though only a side character, was one of the most memorable And I will never forget Hannah Schreiber who, though she doesn t make a real appearance in the book, has one of the most memorable lines Leo Patimkin, I believe in oral love Don t we all, Hannah Schreiber, don t we all.