Philip Milton Roth is 80 today. Something something Newark, something something Jews, something something sex, something something misogyny, something something postmodernism and questions of identity, something something Nobel Prize?, something something alleged retirement. That should about do it.
The final story in Elisa Albert’s debut collection How This Night Is Different is in the form of a letter to Philip Roth from “Elisa Albert.” In it, the author—or her alter-ego, or whatever—offers to bear the aging, famously childless author a son or daughter. It’s a joke, and it isn’t. It’s hilarious either way. And for (h/t Julie Klausner) Jewish Girls who have considered suicide when Zuckerman Unbound was enuf, reading it produces the uncanny sensation of having had the top of one’s head unscrewed and one’s brain contents poured directly onto a page, which one is somehow then reading. I mean, [...]
Maybe some of that $15 million Columbia University just received for a center devoted to digital journalism can be used to figure out why there are, as of now, two Jersey Shore posts here on this website, over the course of just two days. The same grant can pay someone to parse how Avatar, Katie Roiphe's favorite authors and pop sociology intersect with any of this. Until then, let me do my part.
We know, from reading Newsweek, and from looking around, that our institutions and communities are eroding.
Did you read the excerpts from the forthcoming collection of Susan Sontag's journals in the Times this past weekend? I really liked the part where she said, "Most of the interesting art of our time is boring." I agree with that a lot. I don't know if I'd say "most of," but I like a lot of boring art, and boring things, and often find myself defending the benefits of boredom. (This post could quickly devolve into a semantical discussion of the precise definition of "boredom," but I will elide that. I also liked the part in the article where Sontag said, "I don’t care about someone being intelligent," [...]
"This was not soft porn. This was no longer two unclothed women caressing and kissing on a bed. There was something primitive about it now, this woman-on-woman violence, as though in the room filled with shadows, Pegeen were a magical composite of shaman, acrobat, and animal. It was as if she were wearing a mask on her genitals, a weird totem mask, that made her into what she was not and was not supposed to be. There was something dangerous about it. His heart thumped with excitement – the god Pan looking on from a distance with his spying, lascivious gaze." Philip Roth's The Humbling makes the shortlist for [...]