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My Life as a Man (Complete Nathan Zuckerman #1)

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  1,124 ratings  ·  83 reviews
A fiction-within-a-fiction, a labyrinthine edifice of funny, mournful, and harrowing meditations on the fatal impasse between a man and a woman, My Life as a Man is Roth's most blistering novel.

At its heart lies the marriage of Peter and Maureen Tarnopol, a gifted young writer and the woman who wants to be his muse but who instead is his nemesis. Their union is based on f
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 13th 1994 by Vintage (first published 1974)
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American Pastoral by Philip RothThe Human Stain by Philip RothGoodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories by Philip RothSabbath's Theater by Philip RothPortnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
Best Philip Roth Books
16th out of 37 books — 58 voters
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsWatership Down by Richard AdamsThe Stand by Stephen KingInterview with the Vampire by Anne RiceThe Princess Bride by William Goldman
Best Books of the Decade: 1970's
228th out of 813 books — 777 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,063)
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Galina
Все още ми е трудно да асимилирам съдържанието - струва ми се, че всичко, което ми е попадало до момента от Рот е детска приказка, в сравнение с този роман. Отне ми доста време да го завърша, но четенето му не е лесно - като се започне от двата начални разказа, премине се през прекалено откровените разкрития на главния герой, безкрайните препратки към всички други писатели и техни произведения, за да се стигне до финала, до този финал!

Рот не случайно е определян за съвременен класик, колкото и п
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Evyn Charles
As always, reading Philip Roth is not "entertainment" for me. I often find myself having to take a break, a long walk or find something to completely distract me for a while.
The author uses various characters that speak in the first person; it appears that they are thinly disguised versions of himself. Actually, they are mostly fiction but sometimes "inspired" by events in his own life. Sometimes, he tells similar stories from the POV of different characters, which include variations on a theme.
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Ubik 2.0
La vita vera e le sue varianti

Romanzo per rothiani incalliti, “La mia vita di uomo” è conseguentemente sconsigliabile per un primo approccio all’autore.

Si tratta infatti di un’opera in cui la linearità del racconto è ripetutamente deviata, contraddetta, frammentata da digressioni, salti temporali e riflessioni, tanto che a volte sembra che Roth si stia quasi esercitando a sviluppare la narrazione in diversi modi, sperimentando varianti, personaggi e situazioni, facendo addirittura precedere il
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Carmen Daza Márquez
De una crudeza implacable y una sinceridad desgarradora, las variaciones sobre el mismo tema que Philip Roth presenta en Mi vida como hombre suponen cada vez una nueva vuelta de tuerca alrededor de cómo un hombre puede echar a perder su propia vida sabiendo bien lo que hace y cómo lo hace. Una historia contada de una forma totalmente inverosímil, y a la vez de una autenticidad tan descarnada que por fuerza tiene que contener elementos autobiográficos reales.
El narrador-protagonista (sea Nathan Z
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Monica
Roth at his best: ironic, sharp, cynical. The book deals with the typical Roth's themes: the difficult relations with women, hebraism and the writer's ego.
The narrative scheme is brilliant: the first two chapters are two short stories written by the author who is the protagonist of the following chapters.
The writing style, as usual, is amazingly polished.
Agnes Mack
I don't know off hand how many Roth books I've read now, but I suspect it's easily in the two digits. I've also read more essays, reviews and entire books of criticism of Roth than any sane person should. A common criticism of his work is that he portrays women poorly, that he is in fact a misogynist.

Maybe it's because I didn't graduate from college and was therefore able to avoid any sort of Gender Studies class, but I never really had a problem with his portrayal of women. He typically has two
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Martin
There is this emotional pressure when a girl tells you to be a man about something that makes you want to kick her because you know she has no idea what being a man is like. This book is screaming FUCK YOU! I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT! AND I DON'T CARE IF IT'S MANLY ENOUGH JUST STOP EXPECTING THINGS FROM ME!
I love how corrupted and aggressive Roth's characters are. It feels so honest of him, knowing that he is probably a disturbed and narcissistic person in a real life, to read about highly intell
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Phil
Peter Tarnopol (who may or may not be Philip Roth) has some problems. On the one hand, there's his wife, a chronic liar who spends all her time arguing with him yet refuses to divorce him. On the other hand, there's his tendency to create problems for himself. Tarnopol seems to thrive on conflict as much as he suffers from it. Although he all but admits this to himself, he still seems bewildered by the whole thing.

In part, as he realizes, his difficulties stem from his "literary" frame of mind,
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Cheryl Klein
While I was reading this book, I kept telling people that the gist of it was "bitches be crazy." It's true that the only sane woman in Peter Tarnopol's life is his mother (oh, wait, but his therapist dismisses her as the castrating source of his narcissism). Maybe his sister? At least Peter/Roth realizes that it takes a crazy bitch to know one. The novel is Peter's obsessive, claustrophobic investigation of why he can't stay away from his banshee of an ex, who makes his current insecure, mildly ...more
Wilson
The most interesting aspect of My Life as a Man, at least to me, is the swirling structure of the novel. Roth splits the novel into two parts, Part One is two short stories about Nathan Zuckerman (though not the Zuckerman as I understand it, but another Zuckerman who stands in as analogy for the author within the novel Peter Tarnopol; meta magic from Roth), one story seems comic the other tragic; both stories are superb and the rest of the novel never quite lived up to the beginning, for me. The ...more
Eliot
Because Peter Tarnopol (self-destructive novelist who, having won the Prix de Rome for a first novel whose high seriousness cemented him as a writer of the self-serious fifties, is desperately attempting to drag himself into the sixties with a new novel built upon the sordid details of his destructive marriage to a manipulative, soul-eating sociopath) and Nate Zuckerman, his fictional alter ego (or rather alter egos, two Zuckermans, each with a slightly different personal history, protagonists r ...more
samadhi44
With some regret, I give this one two stars. In the end, my apathy/mild hate for the main character (as intended) was too overwhelming to enjoy this book. It was well-written but perhaps more complex than strictly necessary; the two short stories at start provide more than enough fodder for the remainder of the plot, but then the plot jumps around chronologically in a dizzying and ultimately uninteresting way. A disappointing Philip Roth.
Rachel
Deft, and with shades of Human Stain and Mickey Sabbath, but ultimately not his best and, sadly, tied to its time.
Fitfit Mayasari
wanna know a man who's a drama queen? har har har, no, i said "queen", annoyingly funny
Loren
During the night I paused at times in reading Maureen to read Faulkner. "I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance." I read that Nobel Prize speech from beginning to end, and I thought, "And what the hell are you talking about? How could you write The Sound and the Fury, how could you write The Hamlet, how could y ...more
Jim Leckband
Like Peter Tarnopol, I grew up with little family drama. Which made it difficult to know what to do when a batshit crazy person entered my life. What is a "man" to do when every thing he does is "wrong"? There is no learned-from-life template to apply. The only "manly" thing to do is the honorable thing - even though that is what will ultimately be used to damage you! A true no-win, almost existential, dilemma. I think this is the core of what "My Life as a Man" deals with.

Philip Roth does not b
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Ash Vandelay
My Life as a Man investigates fundamental issues about adulthood, masculinity, literature, and love through the lens of a Jewish novelist living in New York named Peter Tarnopol. Roth captures a lot about humanity with an emphasis on "man" in this novel, writing that "There is a growing body of opinion which maintains that by and large marriages, affairs, and sexual arrangements generally are made by masters in search of slaves: there are the dominant and the submissive, the brutish and the comp ...more
olaszka
philip roth is one of my favourite writers and i always thought him very consistent. this time around he does not deliver, or maybe this time around i just can't overlook the staggering amount of misogyny that informs most of his fiction.

to be clear, this novel is as semantically superb as any other penned by roth but it's just tediously overanalytic. the dialogue is good but there's so little of it! what we get instead is three hundred pages of excruciatingly detailed self-evaluation, practice
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Dallis
Roth, Philip ©© My Life as a Man 1982?

Read this in one sitting two days ago (April 1989). Why do I go
on reading this guy's books? World's biggest whiner. Okay,
we've all got it in for women to a certain degree (they "force"
us to give up the lives of adventure and romance we have planned
for ourselves, to devote ourselves instead to working at ordinary
jobs to earn ordinary livings for them and their children. Also,
they don't let us have sex with other women and they don't have
sex with us often enou
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Richard
This book is scary for how good a read it is. Clearly, a set up for masterpieces like American Pastoral and The Human Stain. And the depths of metafiction that Roth is so good at - where the line of fiction and fiction becomes hazy. The starts as a couple of Zuckerman narratives - the very birth of Zuckerman as a Roth alias - but this Zuckerman is really the ficitonal guise of Peter Tarnopol, a writer tortured by his own ambiguity about his manhood throughout his hellish relationship with his wi ...more
Geraldine Kim
(spoilers ahead)

(Btw I don't understand why people care abt spoilers. Who cares what the ending is. If the writing is good, the plot shouldn't matter. I only warn about spoilers for those that care about spoilers, though I am not of that population).

ok: I liked this book a lot at first. How the first part of the book (about the writer Zuckerman) mirrors/is translated in the fake autobiography of the writer Tarnopol.

One of my favorite moments is the conversation the writer Tarnopol has with his
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Louis Dirigible
the early plot of the novel seemed to be taken up by roth again and in worse fashion in 'indignation.' i need to read a biography on him, because he writes about new york divorce legislation and an early crazy wife who plagues a young writer more than once. he seems to start strong and his books flag as they accumulate pages. you can't fault him for a lack of bravado.

i'm not sure i have much more to say. very much a book in the wear it on your shirtsleeve vein, and i guess that's what he does: c
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Aaron
Having only read it during my year of the Roth, my memories of “My Life As a Man” are fuzzy; however, I do remember it as a sour work. Roth himself has admitted that the book is more or less a rehash of his failed first marriage, and like many of his books, it is rather harsh on his ex-wife. Unlike some of the other books that cover the same emotional territory (“Portnoy’s Complaint,” “Letting Go,” etc.) there is a lack of sympathy and self reflection – like the later Zuckerman books (a Zuckerma ...more
cheeseblab
So dreary--this actually made me wonder whether I could continue with my Year of Reading Roth. A horrible woman is horrible and makes a man horrible too, especially if he was kinda horrible to begin with. Gah.

Oddly, I was maybe halfway through this in the 3rd volume of the Library of America edition, which I'd already checked out for The Great American Novel, before I realized that I own the hardcover edition pictured. But those LoA books feel so great in the hand, I just kept reading it there--
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Laurel
Dec 16, 2007 Laurel rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who hate women?
Shelves: disappointments
I'm finding this book difficult to read due to the fact that the narrator is a sexist fuck who alternately pities, abuses, wises death upon, and insults every female character within. For some crazy reason I am compelled to keep reading as Roth's narrator forces a one-dimensional girlfriend to have sex with vegetables, "endures" relationships with suicidal wives, and emotionally tortures most everyone, including the reader, as his narcissism is endless. It's like listening to Dr. Laura on AM rad ...more
Lolo
Ce livre est composé de trois récits qui sont une variation de la même histoire abordée avec un angle de vue différent. Il s'agit donc d'un jeune écrivain névrosé qui, alors qu'il connait un début de succès littéraire et s'installe confortablement dans la vie, épouse une femme qui va mettre ses nerfs à rude épreuve. Les récits sont émaillés de lettres ou d'extraits de journaux intimes des protagonistes ou des proches, de dialogues parfois intérieurs, ou encore de séances de Peter Tarnopol (perso ...more
wigwam
Mar 27, 2011 wigwam rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of divorce, Auster and Deconstructing Harry
Recommended to wigwam by: Gurion ben-Judah Maccabee
3/27 wow the third section and the last 40 pages or so are really strong - look forward to reading his real memoirs now, does he go into stuff abt the real marriage/divorce? i am worried about reading the rest of his stuff now, in case it's not as self-reflexive and layered like this, i really hated that dopey Plot Against America nostalgia/satire nonsense which i worry Portnoy is also, well here's hoping for the Zuckerman quartet - THIS WAS GREAT!

I laughed soooo hard at "George F. Babbit, say,
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Ali Nazifpour
A very comedic take on a relationship that is seriously dysfunctional and abusive on both sides, also an interesting postmodern novel inside novel to boot, can be difficult to read but worth the effort.
John
This is a messy novel about messy, deeply flawed people. The marriage portrayed here is even scarier than the one in Revolutionary Road. There's lots of talk and analysis in this book, but little understanding, since all the characters--spouses, lovers, siblings, therapists--misunderstand each other and construct their own, ridiculously divergent interpretations of shared situations and events. This book is full of Roth's familiar rambling intensity and wickedly truthful, vivid characterizations ...more
Maurizio Guadagnoli
Un romanzo che è la sintesi della scrittura di Roth, forse uno dei più semplici da leggere, impregnato dell'amara ironia che è il marchio di fabbrica dello scrittore americano per eccellenza. Decisamente divertente e scorrevole, tratta i temi della solitudine nel matrimonio, l'ossessività, la misteriosa autodistruzione a cui apparentemente si vota il protagonista ed una critica poco indulgente nei confronti della psicoanalisi. Molto istruttivo.
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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
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American Pastoral (The American Trilogy #1) Portnoy's Complaint The Plot Against America The Human Stain (The American Trilogy, #3) Everyman

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“He is not simply looking into the mirror because he is transfixed by what he sees. Rather, the artist’s success depends as much as anything on his powers of detachment, on de-narcissizing himself… Freud… studied his own dreams not because he was a “narcissist,” but because he was a student of dreams. And whose were at once the least and most accessible of dreams, if not his own?” 7 likes
“I would browse for half an hour or so in the secondhand bookstores in the neighborhood. Owning my own 'library' was my only materialistic ambition; in fact, trying to decide which two of these thousands of books to buy that week, I would frequently get so excited that by the time the purchase was accomplished I had to make use of the bookseller's toilet facilities. I don't believe that either microbe or laxative has ever affected me so strongly as the discovery that I was all at once the owner of a slightly soiled copy of Empson's Seven Types of Ambiguity in the original English edition.” 3 likes
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