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Portnoy's Complaint

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  41,478 Ratings  ·  2,073 Reviews
Portnoy's Complaint n. [after Alexander Portnoy (1933- )] A disorder in which strongly-felt ethical and altruistic impulses are perpetually warring with extreme sexual longings, often of a perverse nature. Spielvogel says: 'Acts of exhibitionism, voyeurism, fetishism, auto-eroticism and oral coitus are plentiful; as a consequence of the patient's "morality," however, neith ...more
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Published April 13th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1969)
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Aug 28, 2007 Malbadeen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sarah's other pervey friends
Recommended to Malbadeen by: Sarah (what a perv)
It's recently been brought to my attention that my book reviews frequently are not actually about the book. And I'm wondering why would you want to know about the book when all you have to do is click on the little blurb about the book and then get on with the fascinating reading about...oh, say where I bought my milk last Tuesday or my fondest/most traumatic childhood memory, etc, etc.
And, yet. I aim to please so here is my sincere attempt to tell you something about this book. It (the book) go
Glenn Sumi
21 Random Thoughts After Reading Philip Roth’s Classic Portnoy’s Complaint 46 Years After Its Controversial Publication

1. I’ve read three or four Philip Roth books, but how have I never read this, which catapulted him to literary fame – or at least notoriety and celebrity – in the late 60s? Everyone's read it! Even Don Draper!

2. The young Roth sure was funny. We're talking laugh out loud, text-your-best-friends-favourite-lines, nearly pee your pants funny.

3. The guy was also rude and crude and….
Jun 29, 2010 Shovelmonkey1 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who are adventurous with offal
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Shelves: 1001-books
Earlier today I grossly contradicted myself by stating that I'd enjoyed all the books I'd read which were written by Philip Roth. Then I realised I'd forgotten about Portnoy's Complaint.

There is a school of thought which says to write well you have to write about what you know. On that basis I know I definitely did not like this book, although that unfortunately does not guarantee that I will excel at writing about it. With that in mind Philip Roth is official King of writing about what you know
G.R. Reader
Feb 19, 2014 G.R. Reader rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Portnoy's Complaint was my first husband's favorite book, and he used to quote from it all the time. When we got divorced (it wasn't amicable), my lawyer asked how I'd feel about using that fact in court. I was strongly tempted but told him after careful consideration that it was below the belt.

As it turned out, my instincts were sound. The judge knew Philip Roth personally, and it would have been a disaster. I only discovered this several years later and was amazed at what a close call I'd had.
I have a vague memory that when I first read "Portnoy's Complaint" as a teenager -- I was probably 16 or 17 at the time -- I either carried my paperback copy with me to my grandmother's condo, or perhaps just mentioned to her that I was reading the book. What a mistake. She was displeased with my choice in reading material, and wasn't shy about letting me know. This was many years before Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize, making him somewhat more respectable to the American Jewish community. To ...more
Lubinka Dimitrova
Although I definitely enjoyed it more than Bukowski's Women, I've come to realise that books about middle-aged male Americans who spend their time navel-gazing and contemplating their relationship with their penis is probably not my cup of tea. The book was fun, but I strongly suspect that if it weren't for the narrator, I might have never finished it. Ron Silver is a brilliant reader, I doubt that I would have enjoyed the story more even if Roth himself was whispering it in my ear.
Jr Bacdayan
Hey, Roth! What’s with the smug smile on that face of yours? What’s with that satisfied look? You think you’re now a goy or something? Are you thinking of a shikse or something? Are you high? You think just because you wrote a bunch of anti-semitic, auto-erotic stuff you’re some bigshot? What’s the sense with that piece of crap? Don’t you dare turn your back on me you balding Kike! You wanker! You kosher prick! You… oh, where’s the sense in this? Come on, mate. Is this really just to ridicule so ...more
Nov 20, 2010 Mariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: constipated older Jewish men
Recommended to Mariel by: masterbators
I would have walked away in the conversation at the point of Portnoy proclaiming that he slept with the women that he did (anyone who would have him) as a way of conquering America. Essentially those who would not have him like historically against Jewish peoples (dude, you work for the mayor and are educated! You do what you want!). I am not Jewish and I wasn't alive in the '60s. Somewhere anyone is going to feel like that they don't belong. What I really liked about Portnoy's Complaint is the ...more
I'm in the mood for this now and it's reading like a breeze. God, it's probably shameful to admit that I AM PORTNOY, but it would be just like me to say that very thing and mirror the guilt of the guy in the book. You wish your parents could read this, especially my neat freak, worrywart mom. I think a lot of Catholic households and Jewish households are not a lot different. This shit is funny and real and insightful. If the rest of the book is as good as the first 50 pages then we shall be quit ...more
Jan 01, 2017 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2016
The title is apt for this book, because the entire thing is a complaint, made by Alexander Portnoy to his shrink. Oh, boy.

Initially I put this on my TBR list because Joe Goldberg, the well-read psychopath in Caroline Kepnes' You and Hidden Bodies lists it as his favourite book. A bit of a twisted road to get to Philip Roth's infamous, sexually explicit work that caused a big splash when published in 1969.

While cleverly written and quite funny in some parts, the rant-like nature of this book got
It's a miracle: I've finished this thing, this book. I thought to read the end as a commenter noted it was a shaggy dog story, which made me wonder what the punch-line was, but as I read about this woman he called "the monkey," I became so furious in how he wrote of her with such hatred that I had to know more about their relationship, which took me back another section, and then another, till I'd finally been led to read the entire dang book.

And while I was sure I'd write something hateful abo
MJ Nicholls
Sep 08, 2012 MJ Nicholls rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, merkins
The definitive self-hating Jew novel. A searing literary stand-up performance par excellence. Woody Allen meets Bill Hicks. Explains where the famous inbuilt neurosis in New York Jews comes from. A brutal, universal portrayal of family life. The funniest thing I have read in a long long time. Every young man in his twenties tries at some point to write this novel and fails. Wonderful. Not a work of remarkable human insight and depth, but this is Philip Roth: the psychopathology of sleaze, if you ...more
Portnoy’s Complaint was on my radar when I watched my first episode of the ABC The Book Club. The book was Marieke Hardy pick of a classic and it received such high praise by the whole panel, describing it as funny, awkward, rude and a work of a genius.

Portnoy’s Complaint is a one sided conversation between Alex Portnoy and his psychoanalyst, of growing up in a Jewish household with loud, workaholic and overprotective parents, his sexual awakening, his career and his failure to commit to a lasti
Roth sei tutti noi (me)

Un lungo monologo di un giovane ebreo newyorchese, alla fine degli sessanta, steso su un lettino di un psicoanalista mentre si lamenta della scombinatezza della propria vita dominata dalle figure genitoriali e da una totale anaffetività che si sublima in una bramosia sessuale infinita. Di questo parla Lamento di Portnoy.

Se avete la (s)fortuna di provenire da una società tradizionalista, con una forte impronta familistica, se avete la (s)fortuna di avere avuto dei genitori
Marcello S
Sep 17, 2015 Marcello S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zeno Cosini in acido.
Dissacrante, ossessivo, complesso.
Chissà come dev’essere stato leggerlo nel ’69.

Oggi è di certo meno sconvolgente sentir parlare di sesso, famiglia e tradizioni ebraiche in maniera così radicale.

Qua e là c’è qualche momento meno godibile o non del tutto riuscito.
A tratti lo segui a stento nei suoi voli pindarici.

Tutto il resto è decisamente notevole. [75/100]
So this - or so I'm informed - is where the archetype of the self-hating, sexually repressed, neurotic Jew originated. Hmm.

A funny confessional book (absolutely crammed with that glorious Yiddish), Portnoy's Complaint certainly is historically significant for its rambunctious iconoclasm, although I doubt -apart from its at the time largely unspoken observations of the restrictions and expectations Jewish identity brings with it - it will have much staying power compared with others of its "genr
Dec 15, 2014 Cosimo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Non è un problema mio

“Con una vita come la mia, Dottore, mi vuol dire a cosa mi servono i sogni?”

Che cosa mi definisce come essere umano, in prima istanza? La voglia di vivere e di essere libero, sembra affermare Alexander Portnoy, aspirazione che si esprime prevalentemente nell'ambiente creato dal dialogo tra caratteristiche sociali e familiari e desideri e qualità individuali: in questo caso, sessualità, ebraismo, società borghese e intellettualismo. E così la scrittura, sotto forma di monolog
Silvia Sirea
Jan 02, 2017 Silvia Sirea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ho chiuso le letture del duemilasedici con questo libro e non potrei essere più soddisfatta di così.
Niente da fare: tutto ciò che scrive quest'uomo è pura letteratura - o almeno è questa la sensazione che ho avuto ogni volta che ho terminato la lettura di una sua opera.
Le 220 pagine di Lamento di Portnoy sono lo sfogo, sotto forma di soliloquio, di un giovane uomo che inveisce contro le convinzioni che la religione radica in una società - in questo caso si tratta di quella ebraica, ma il concet
Julie Ehlers
A round of applause for Portnoy’s Complaint. I can only imagine how daring and groundbreaking this book must have felt when it was first released in the late 1960s. An entire novel written as a rant to the narrator’s psychoanalyst! Imagine! And what’s more, the book manages to keep up its energy and momentum all the way through—it’s entertaining and funny, and insightful in the way only something truly groundbreaking can be. Honestly, despite all the responses and imitations this book no doubt e ...more
Dec 20, 2016 Adriana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ale-mele-citite
Cartea asta e atât de viscerală, încât nu-mi vine să cred că nu e autobiografică, cel puţin partea care se referă la familie, originile evreieşti şi toate neajunsurile care derivă din asta. Pentru că, dacă e să-l credem pe autor, e naşpa rău să fii evreu în SUA, şi de aici s-au născut multe-multe pagini furibunde în care personajul principal îşi spune, îşi strigă, ÎŞI URLĂ frustrările.

Cât despre viaţa sexuală a aceluiaşi personaj, mi-a stârnit hohote de râs (cine naiba s-ar gândi să facă sex cu
Jan 21, 2008 Kat rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Woody Allen fans
Upon finishing this book, I heard myself say aloud (without warning): "that sucked."

There's a lot to recommend Roth as a writer and I think he's fully in control of what he's doing I just wish he were doing something else blah blah. This book is a 300-page monologue by a character who annoyed the crap out of me. Whatever fabulous edgy points Roth might have been making about the self-aggrandizement and self-congratulatory pseudolessons of psychotherapy, whatever incisive criticisms he may have b

Funniest book I have ever read. Bar none. I never, NEVER laugh out loud while reading and I was literally howling several times as I read this.

It's so awful and so true.

Teenage sexual obsession/repression (isn't it funny how the two go together) and religious guilt/ political guilt (ditto) have been linked before, but never as desperately, bitterly funny as this.

I always used to wonder why "realistic" novels about adolescence don't talk about masterbation. I mean everybody does it, right? And
Dec 27, 2014 Paolo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ma di che ti lamenti Alex Portnoy ?

Scusa, sei l'erede prediletto di una famiglia normale che riversa su di te la quasi totalità dell'affetto, delle attenzioni e delle aspettative. Una famiglia che gode di un moderato benessere e non sperimenta lutti prematuri.

Appartieni al popolo che l'Onnipotente ha designato come eletto fra tutti.

Popolo eletto che, in verità, ha passato le sue, senonché i tuoi lungimiranti nonni hanno pensato bene di emigrare da qualche pulcioso shtetl dell'Europa orientale, r
Nov 07, 2008 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults; Guys; Americana Fans
Recommended to Tyler by: Goodreads Reviewers
This entertaining and smartly written book managed the difficult task of amusing and impressing me. The protagonist, too Jewish to be American yet, in the end, too American to be Jewish, reeled me in with his humorous, potent stream of consciousness that tapped into my own musings and assured me that I'm not alone in dwelling upon, uh, inglorious imagery.

The humor comes across at times like stand-up comedy. You can see, then, how easily the author's concept could have gone flat. And so it would
Hugo Emanuel
Jan 14, 2013 Hugo Emanuel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, owned
Já me tinha deparado inúmeras vezes com o nome de Roth. Tais menções vinham muitas vezes acompanhadas da opinião de que Roth é o "maior romancista americano vivo" e que captura magistralmente o que são muitas vezes referidos como "os problemas de assimilação e identidade dos judeus dos Estados Unidos". No entanto, também já tinha me deparado com tais elogios feitos a Saul Bellow, um autor que considero monótono e desinteressante, pelo que estava algo céptico em relação á obra de Roth. Um dia des ...more
Smart, funny, outrageous, and totally irreverent with regard to parents and religion, and sex, of course. For 1969, at least. And even though there has been reams of material written since about these subjects, this book doesn't feel dated. However Roth wasn't the only one tackling such subjects at that time, although he was probably the funniest. In the early sixties, in conservative catholic Ireland, John McGahern braved the wrath of the entire country when he dared to state some nasty truths ...more
Nov 05, 2016 Natalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
Ludilo od knjige!!
Ovakvog Rotha još nisam čitala. Ukratko...glavni lik Alexander Portnoy prepričava svoje doživljaje i frustracije svom psihijatru. :) :) Opsjednutost seksom, odnos s majkom, ocem, sestrom i bivšim djevojkama....

Jako privlačan stil, dosta histerije i humora. Kasnije se čovjek (šteta) uozbiljio i krenuo drugim pravcem. Još ću zavirit i u "Sabbathoniv teatar".
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

Regular readers will remember that I'm in the middle of a long-term literary project right now, to read all eleven novels making up Philip Roth's autobiographical "Zuckerman cycle" in order to better understand the Postmodernist Era they discuss, from its start (right around Kennedy's assassination) to its

Alexander Portnoy é um jovem advogado de 33 anos, com uma inteligência superior à média, nascido e criado nos EUA no seio de uma família judaica tradicionalista. A família é dominada pela figura da mãe, uma dona de casa perfeita, que parece dotada de super-poderes. O pai, funcionário de uma seguradora, angaria clientes e faz cobranças em bairros pobres, actividade que o mantém sob permanente pressão… mental e intestinal. Sim, o pobre homem sofre de uma obstipação crónica, resistente a qualquer m
«Questa è la mia vita, la mia unica vita, e la sto vivendo da protagonista di una barzelletta ebraica»

Solo a Roth poteva venire in mente di scrivere una frase del genere!

Atto di ribellione (e kvetch*)

Per negazione, Alex Portnoy, onanista furente (e furioso), sconcio, ateo e anticonformista, in un monologo lungo tutto il libro, racconta al suo psicoterapeuta (e a noi) cosa significhi essere ebreo (un bambino, un adolescente e un uomo) a Newark, New Jersey, Stati Uniti, negli anni Sessanta.
A ridos
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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...

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“You can no more make someone tell the truth than you can force someone to love you.” 42 likes
“I am marked like a road map from head to toe with my repressions. You can travel the length and breadth of my body over superhighways of shame and inhibition and fear.” 34 likes
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