Nemesis, by Philip Roth

Nemesis is both an important novel and an unpleasant one. Unpleasantness is a hallmark of Phillip Roth: The vague but fascinating insecurities, dark passions and tragedies that froth beneath the surface of Irwin Shaw are unremitting in Roth, who likes to drop his readers into a world where nobody smiles (or not for long, at any rate). The beautiful and masterful reality of the world he constructs – a reality which we can feel in every line of dialogue, of description and of character action – makes the whole thing more depressing. Roth, it seems, only plays in minor keys.

But this is strong, vigorous tragedy, without a trace of sentimentality, full of movement.

Every year before 1954 – the first year the Salk vaccine was widely tested – polio made summertime a terror for children (who were most susceptible) and even more of a terror for parents, who fully understood the implications of potentially lifelong paralysis – which, in the case of pulmonary paralysis, would put the victim in an iron lung or could send him, in less than 24 hours, to the morgue. It is a tribute to Doctor Jonas Salk’s immeasurable contribution to mankind that Roth must begin his novel (published in 2010) by telling his readers what polio was.

The story is set in the wartime summer of 1944, in Newark, New Jersey – Roth’s own hometown (for Roth is more a master-observer than an essentially creative novelist). The playground director, Bucky Cantor, is a refreshingly straightforward hero, fighting his helplessness both against the polio virus and against the poor eyesight which kept him out of the army, but determined to protect his kids.

Like Shaw, but even to a stronger extent, the thing Roth struggles with on every page he writes is his Judaism. (It’s a Jacob-against-the-angel sort of struggle.) Roth wants to reject Judaism, he constantly tries to fling it away, but he can’t escape and is just as constantly, magnetically and irresistibly pulled back to it. His awareness is too finely tuned, too delicately thoughtful to be anything but Jewish. But he refuses to resign himself to his inescapable orbit. This finally erupts in an extraordinary epilogue where the hitherto passive narrator – a child on the playground who, it seemed up to this point, might just as well have been an inert, observing ghost – runs into Bucky Cantor twenty years later, and we are treated to a battle between two different Philip Roths: the one that rejects God as non-existent, and the one that believes in God as an all-powerful and essentially mean-spirited destroyer of happiness. The really remarkable thing is that the theme, or moral, that emerges from this showdown couldn’t be more Jewish or more deeply, spiritually religious: Choose Life! This, astonishingly, is the argument of the Roth who rejects God.

I have set before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse: Therefore choose Life, that you and your children may live.

Prose: 7/10

Accuracy and ear: 9/10

Sturdiness: 9/10

Overall Goodness Rating (OGR): 8/10

Nemesis, by Philip Roth.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010, 304 pages.

525 thoughts on “Nemesis, by Philip Roth

  1. Pingback: cheap cialis
  2. Pingback: prices of cialis
  3. Pingback: Pfizer viagra 50mg
  4. Pingback: Buy cheap viagra
  5. Pingback: viagra generic
  6. Pingback: albuterol inhaler
  7. Pingback: ciprofloxacina
  8. Pingback: cheap viagra
  9. Pingback: cialis 5 mg
  10. Pingback: cialis 5 mg
  11. Pingback: buy tylenol
  12. Pingback: cialis cost
  13. Pingback: viagra suppliers
  14. Pingback: cheap viagra
  15. Pingback: viagra generic
  16. Pingback: viagra 50mg
  17. Pingback: gnc ed pills
  18. Pingback: online pharmacy
  19. Pingback: cvs pharmacy
  20. Pingback: Cialis in usa
  21. Pingback: cialis mastercard
  22. Pingback: levitra pill
  23. Pingback: levitra canada
  24. IM SO LUCKY I FOUND YOUR WEBSITE GOOD JOB!!!!
    THANKS A LOT!!!!KEEP IT UP!!!i just want to tell you that i am just beginner to weblog and honestly liked this web-site. likely i’m planning to bookmark your blog .

  25. Pingback: levitra dosage
  26. IM SO LUCKY I FOUND YOUR WEBSITE GOOD JOB!!!!
    THANKS A LOT!!!!KEEP IT UP!!!i just want to tell you that i am just beginner to weblog and honestly liked this web-site. likely i’m planning to bookmark your blog .

  27. Hi there, You’ve done an incredible job. I will definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I’m confident they’ll be benefited from this website.

  28. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted to mention that I’ve truly loved browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing in your rss feed and I’m hoping you write again soon!

  29. IM SO LUCKY I FOUND YOUR WEBSITE GOOD JOB!!!!
    THANKS A LOT!!!!KEEP IT UP!!!i just want to tell you that i am just beginner to weblog and honestly liked this web-site. likely i’m planning to bookmark your blog .

  30. Pingback: buy cialis
  31. you make running a blog glance easy. The full look of your site is fantastic, as neatly as the content material! this will help me to create my own blog. if you dont mind can you give me an advice? thanks alot!!!

  32. Pingback: online casino
  33. Pingback: online loans
  34. Pingback: quick cash loans
  35. Pingback: Nootropics
  36. Pingback: TIGHT VAGINA
  37. Pingback: viagra 100mg
  38. Pingback: What Is PhenQ
  39. Pingback: online slots
  40. Pingback: 20 cialis
  41. Pingback: casino
  42. Pingback: cialis buy
  43. Pingback: cialis generic
  44. Pingback: cialis buy
  45. Pingback: generic cialis
  46. Pingback: gambling games
  47. Pingback: sildenafil generic
  48. Pingback: cheap viagra
  49. Pingback: generic viagra
  50. Pingback: viagra generic
  51. Pingback: viagra buy
  52. Pingback: tadalafil tablets
  53. Pingback: buy viagra pills
  54. Pingback: viagra online
  55. Pingback: Air Max 97
  56. Pingback: UGG Outlet
  57. Pingback: Yeezy Shoes
  58. Pingback: Adidas Yeezy
  59. Pingback: UGGS Outlet
  60. Pingback: UGG
  61. Pingback: Yeezy
  62. Pingback: Yeezy 350
  63. Pingback: UGG
  64. Pingback: generic viagra
  65. Pingback: Adidas yeezy
  66. Pingback: cheap viagra
  67. Pingback: Viagra 200mg nz
  68. Pingback: generic viagra
  69. Pingback: Viagra 25 mg pills
  70. Pingback: viagra sale
  71. Pingback: Viagra 120 mg nz
  72. Pingback: order sildenafil
  73. Pingback: buy Cialis 40 mg
  74. Pingback: ciali online
  75. Pingback: viagra prices
  76. Pingback: RxTrustPharm
  77. Pingback: Cialis 60 mg cost
  78. Pingback: viagra
  79. Pingback: viagra for sale
  80. Pingback: Cialis 80 mg uk
  81. Pingback: rxtrustpharm.com
  82. Pingback: levitra 60 mg nz
  83. Pingback: actos 30mg generic
  84. Pingback: amaryl 2mg nz
  85. Pingback: antabuse 500mg otc
  86. Pingback: viagra cheap
  87. Pingback: arava 10 mg prices
  88. Pingback: aricept 10mg cheap
  89. Pingback: cialis
  90. Pingback: cialis in women
  91. Pingback: avapro 150mg pills
  92. Pingback: viagra
  93. Pingback: rx trust pharm
  94. Pingback: cheap cialis
  95. Pingback: buy viagra
  96. Pingback: cialis coupons
  97. Pingback: generic viagra
  98. Pingback: gambling games
  99. Pingback: casino game
  100. Pingback: real money casino
  101. Pingback: slots real money
  102. Pingback: rivers casino
  103. Pingback: hollywood casino
  104. Pingback: best insurance car
  105. Pingback: buy cialis online
  106. Pingback: cialis miami
  107. Pingback: buy cialis usa
  108. Pingback: buy cialis usa
  109. Pingback: online loans
  110. Pingback: best quick loans
  111. Pingback: milf viagra
  112. Pingback: fildena vs viagra
  113. Pingback: women viagra
  114. Pingback: sophia viagra
  115. Pingback: sophia viagra nude
  116. Pingback: generic cialis buy
  117. Pingback: buy levitra online
  118. Pingback: viagra buy online
  119. Pingback: payday loans
  120. Pingback: viagra mastercard
  121. Pingback: viagra bdsm
  122. Pingback: natural viagra
  123. Pingback: Approved viagra
  124. Pingback: my dick on viagra
  125. Pingback: sildenafil 20 mg
  126. Pingback: atorvastatin bnf
  127. Pingback: term paper writer
  128. Pingback: buy custom essay
  129. Pingback: term paper writer
  130. Pingback: cleocin usa
  131. Pingback: Buy viagra brand
  132. Pingback: Approved viagra
  133. Pingback: cialis benefits
  134. Pingback: cost of combivent
  135. Pingback: viagra price cvs
  136. Pingback: viagra or cialis
  137. Pingback: generic cialis
  138. Pingback: viagra delivery
  139. Pingback: crestor otc
  140. Pingback: nursing essay help
  141. Pingback: buy viagra
  142. Pingback: Viagra approved
  143. Pingback: phd online
  144. Pingback: write my papers
  145. Pingback: buy ddavp
  146. Pingback: depakote canada
  147. Pingback: cheap differin
  148. Pingback: diltiazem cost
  149. Pingback: cheap viagra
  150. Pingback: buy elavil 10mg
  151. Pingback: cheap Nolvadex
  152. Pingback: flomax tablet
  153. Pingback: viagra ebay
  154. Pingback: sildenafil generic
  155. Pingback: geodon 80mg tablet
  156. Pingback: viagra erection
  157. Pingback: hyzaar usa
  158. Pingback: buy cialis online
  159. Pingback: imitrex usa
  160. Pingback: ditropan xl a
  161. Pingback: site web
  162. Pingback: viagra substitute
  163. Pingback: imuran cheap
  164. Pingback: how to buy lamisil
  165. Pingback: buy viagra online
  166. Pingback: lopid pharmacy
  167. Pingback: norvasc 5 mg cost
  168. Pingback: cheapest lopressor
  169. Pingback: luvox tablet
  170. Pingback: amoxicillin 400 mg
  171. Pingback: cheapest meclizine
  172. Pingback: viagra for sale
  173. Pingback: want to buy viagra
  174. Pingback: mestinon purchase
  175. Pingback: atorvastatin side
  176. Pingback: micardis price
  177. Pingback: motrin pharmacy
  178. Pingback: canadian pharmacy
  179. Pingback: buspar doses
  180. Pingback: coreg beta blocker
  181. Pingback: procardia tablets
  182. Pingback: buy viagra online
  183. Pingback: viagra buy online
  184. Pingback: cheapest reglan
  185. Pingback: nizagara vs viagra
  186. Pingback: zyrtec heartburn
  187. Pingback: sophia viagra hot
  188. Pingback: viagra definition
  189. Pingback: risperdal tablets
  190. Pingback: robaxin prices
  191. Pingback: rogaine 5% price
  192. Pingback: seroquel tablets
  193. Pingback: cialis makers
  194. Pingback: toprol purchase
  195. Pingback: cost of tricor
  196. Pingback: valtrex uk
  197. Pingback: verapamil tablets
  198. Pingback: cheap voltaren
  199. Pingback: zestril medication
  200. Pingback: cost of zithromax
  201. Pingback: look at here now
  202. Pingback: More hints
  203. Pingback: buy zocor 10mg
  204. Pingback: zovirax uk
  205. Pingback: zyloprim purchase
  206. Pingback: sildenafil tablet
  207. Pingback: pioglitazone nz
  208. Pingback: fexofenadine usa
  209. Pingback: buy cheap viagra
  210. Pingback: irbesartan nz
  211. Pingback: cefuroxime generic
  212. Pingback: generic cialis uk
  213. Pingback: cialis
  214. Pingback: loratadine coupon
  215. Pingback: cialis black brand
  216. Pingback: cheap clindamycin

Comment