I have tried. God knows, I have tried. But I can't warm up to Philip Roth. I find him repetitive, tiresome. He seems to be from a generation so far removed from mine I can never quite grasp what about his writing inspires so many people. (For the record, he's not that removed from me generationally speaking. And I like Williams Faulkner and Shakespeare just fine.)
Maybe, I thought, I have read the wrong books. I've only read a few. So when I made a deal with a friend to read something by Roth - in exchange, she would attempt again to read White Teeth by Zadie Smith, a novel I love and she couldn't get more than 10 pages through - I thought: Well, here's my chance. She won't pick anything too guycentric.
She went easy on me and chose Indignation, a slim, recent novel, that she promised me was good. She said it was OK to listen to it on audio, so I dutifully checked it out from the library. The first CD started out interestingly enough; if nothing else, the reader's New York accent was amusing. And then I got to the second CD and while I can't tell you here what turned me off - the Miami Herald will not allow me to use the colorful terms in which Mr. Roth describes sexual frustration and/or consummation - I can tell you that if it had been my CD I would've whipped it out the car window on I-95, probably causing a massive pile-up and further endangering the lives of drivers already overwhelmed by the new plastic pole installation. (Seriously, doesn't DOT realize we have some really stupid drivers in Miami?)
So many people have told me: "But American Pastoral is one of the best books ever written!" Maybe I can substitute that instead. Or The Plot Against America - I like alternate history (though I expect it's less thrilling than Inglourious Basterds). I simply can't take any more 1950s sexual hysteria. I CAN'T DO IT.