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Novels, 1967-1972: When She Was Good / Portnoy's Complaint / Our Gang / The Breast (Library of America: Philip Roth #2)

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  132 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
For the last half century, the novels of Philip Roth have re-energized American fiction and redefined its possibilities. Roth's comic genius, his imaginative daring, his courage in exploring uncomfortable truths, and his assaults on political, cultural, and sexual orthodoxies have made him one of the essential writers of our time. By special arrangement with the author, Th ...more
Hardcover, 672 pages
Published August 18th 2005 by Library of America
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(showing 1-30 of 283)
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Nov 30, 2010 Mike rated it liked it
The only essential novel contained in this pricey volume is Portnoy's Complaint, the others are for completists only.
Jul 25, 2008 Kyle rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Philip Roth's Novels: 1967-1972 is a great collection, both because the content itself is often great and because the respect and admiration required to put it together shines through on every page. You have to be a damn good writer to get your work anthologized like this, and Roth doesn't disappoint.

When She Was Good, the first novel, is probably the most difficult of the four. In a dense and meandering story, Roth shows us the complicated lives of mid-20th-century suburban America. Or rather,
Lawrence A
Five stars for Portnoy. The book is funny to the extreme, and sad as well, when you come to think of it, and it is spot on with respect to the cultural phenomenon of the Jewish mother (and Jewish families, Jewish neuroses, Jewish longings, etc., etc.), even if it is less accurate in describing the generation after Roth. Four starts to When She Was Good, a very moving and interior view of a young woman with a troubled family as we watch her psyche melt down. Four stars as well to Roth's Nixon par ...more
Sam K G
Dec 31, 2007 Sam K G rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Roth lovers
Shelves: fiction
This collection is the second volume in the Library of America's projected eight volume edition of the complete novels of Philip Roth. While I find 'Our Gang' to be among my least favorite of Roth's writings, which lowers my love of this particular volume, the characteristic voice is always present, and the prose are beautiful. 'When She Was Good' is a strong novel, though I personally am glad that he chose to remain faithful to his Jewish characters in his later works. 'Portnoy's Complaint' is ...more
Jan 29, 2012 Ryan rated it it was amazing
Brilliant and brutal.

When She Was Good has received mixed reviews but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I could feel strong empathy for how trapped Lucy felt and found her horribly flawed but not unlikeable.

Portnoy's Complaint remains the masterpiece it has always been for me.

Our Gang ran a bit long and was a bit base but when when it is good it is fantastic. The particular critique of the lying nature of politics as a marketing enterprise remains apt and ferocious as it is written.

The Breast was uni
Sep 03, 2009 Patricia rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The Breast introduces David Kepesh in the first volume of a trilogy.

"It appears then that my analysis has 'taken'." I tell Dr. Klinger, "a tribute to you, sir." He laughs. "You were always stronger than you thought." "I would so soon never had to find out. And besides, it's not so. I can't live like this any longer." "Yet you have, you do." "I do, but I can't I was never strong. Only determined.

...It goes back to handing in homework in on time and carrying off all the prizes."

-Excerpt "The Brea
Damir Marusic
Oct 06, 2007 Damir Marusic rated it liked it
Recommends it for: compulsive masturbators
Shelves: fiction
I only read Portnoy's Complaint. (I may yet read The Breast which sounds like Kafka's cockroach tale, except the dude turns into a boob. Yes, a real female breast.) Complaint took a long while to get going and was repetitive as hell, but it did provide a little bit of pleasure toward the end. Come to think of it, it's not unlike jerking off.
Jul 24, 2009 Danny rated it liked it

I read Portnoy's Complaint only, because I'm reading the Random House (Modern Library) 100 Best Novels in the English language from this and the last century. It was very funny, but definitely not for everyone. Has some very detailed sexual content. I'm a little surprised it made the list, among Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence, etc.
Aaron France
May 28, 2007 Aaron France rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: certainly not islamic fundamentalists
Portnoys Complaint is what made Roth. Masturbation, Jewish mothers, and complications in love as a result of both. The Breast is Roth comically imitating Kafka's Metamorphosis. Make awakes as breast. Hilarity and existential crisis ensues.
Martin Bihl
Mar 25, 2016 Martin Bihl rated it liked it
When She Was Good - finished 11.29.13

Portnoy's Complaint - finished 01.02.15

Our Gang - finished 11.11.15

The Breast - finished 03.24.16
Jay Gabler
Feb 27, 2015 Jay Gabler rated it really liked it
The pleasant surprise here is "When She Was Good": a tart, traditional, closely observed novel about a tragic character.
Mar 21, 2008 Peter rated it liked it
Recommends it for: most people
Recommended to Peter by: interersting author
Man, is this a strange short story or what? I wanted to get to the end to find out if the whole story was some delusion.
Aida Ghazar
Jun 02, 2016 Aida Ghazar rated it did not like it
fantastic,brilliant if I have time I will read it again for sure,specially Portnoy's complaint and When she was good.
Dec 26, 2009 David rated it really liked it
When She was Good is frankly, disturbing, on a par with The Sterile Cuckoo. It doesn't merit reading again and I would not say it's worth the time other than to connect the dots in Roth's development. It's the one work of Roth's where I think the charge of misogyny is actually accurate.

Portnoy's Complaint. A laugh riot and the first work to show Roth's devotion to the energy of the sentence. A comic meditation on motherhood, Jewishness and masturbation. A sustained and relentless session on an A
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  • Novels, 1944-1953
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Philip Milton Roth is an American novelist. He gained early literary fame with the 1959 collection Goodbye, Columbus (winner of 1960's National Book Award), cemented it with his 1969 bestseller Portnoy's Complaint, and has continued to write critically-acclaimed works, many of which feature his fictional alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman. The Zuckerman novels began with The Ghost Writer in 1979, and inc ...more
More about Philip Roth...

Other Books in the Series

Library of America: Philip Roth (8 books)
  • Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories / Letting Go
  • Novels, 1973-1977: The Great American Novel / My Life as a Man / The Professor of Desire
  • Novels and Other Narratives, 1986-1991: The Counterlife / The Facts / Deception / Patrimony
  • Zuckerman Bound: The Ghost Writer / Zuckerman Unbound / The Anatomy Lesson / The Prague Orgy
  • Novels, 1993-1995: Operation Shylock / Sabbath's Theater
  • The American Trilogy: American Pastoral / I Married a Communist / The Human Stain (The American Trilogy, #1-3)
  • Novels 2001-2007: The Dying Animal / The Plot Against America / Exit Ghost

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