The Facts: A Novelist's Autobiography
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The Facts: A Novelist's Autobiography

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  479 ratings  ·  47 reviews
A rigorously unfictionalized narrative that protrays Roth unadorned -- as young artist, as student , as son, as lover, as husband, as American, as Jew -- and candidly examines how close the novels have been to, and how far from, autobiography.
Hardcover, 195 pages
Published September 1st 1988 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1988)
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Simona
Attraverso una lettera indirizzata a Nathan Zuckerman, il suo alter ego, ma anche il protagonista di alcuni suoi romanzi, Roth scrive la sua autobiografia. Una autobiografia diversa, atipica che si snoda su cinque punti, che sono la tematica portante della sua vita da romanziere, ma soprattutto la sua vita di uomo.
In un percorso che va dal rapporto con i genitori, un rapporto molto dolce, ma anche troppo protettivo che l'hanno tenuto in una campana di vetro, ai primi successi, all'università si...more
Luís Paz da silva
Comprei este livro para levar para as férias que hoje acabaram. Li-o em 2 dias. É uma auto-biografia do Philip Roth, engenhosamente construída: começa com uma carta aberta do Autor dirigida a um dos seus principais personagens (o seu alter-ego Nathan Zuckerman), anunciando a remessa do manuscrito da sua auto-biografia e pedindo opinião quanto à bondade da sua publicação. Termina com a resposta de Zuckerman. Entre estes dois momentos, há uma biografia a cinco tempos. E funciona, porque Roth conse...more
§--
An autobiographical writer's only straight autobiography, written when he was 55. And there is very little here: about five scenes, as it were, each of different periods in his life ("Safe at Home" (boyhood obsession with baseball in Weequahic), college at Bucknell, "Girl of My Dreams" (Chicago years, the woman who became his first wife), "All in the Family" (Defending himself against Jewish community attacks on his writing at Yeshiva University),
and "Now Vee May Perhaps to Begin" (His divorce...more
Asma Fedosia
Some might claim that 'Dear Roth' is the most interesting chapter in this "autobiography"; for me, it's that surprising chapter (letter), 'Girl of My Dreams', a glitch in his life, his first marriage, after otherwise steady achievement. Josephine (Josie) Jensen, the fake name of the scheming, low-class gentile who turned his life to emotional hell and even threatened it, reminded me of a movie star's exposé of her/his awful childhood. Poor, Roth; with all these sordid 'facts', no wonder he presu...more
James
William Burroughs referred to Paul Bowles autobiography, "Without Stopping", as "Without Telling". I was reminded of that while reading "The Facts". It isn't that Roth doesn't tell us the truth, whatever that might be, it's simply that he doesn't tell us anything that those of us who have read everything else didn't already know.

Having said that, his family is removed a few steps from the representations in the Zuckerman novels--meaningfully so--and the entire narrative resonates profoundly in i...more
Maria
Nella sua parte prettamente autobiografica, è un libro ricco di spunti interessanti.
Un vero e proprio manuale di istruzione al Roth-pensiero.
Il mestiere del romanziere presuppone un grande lavoro di fantasia; lo sforzo principale consiste soprattutto nel corredare di fronzoli immaginari un fatto realmente accaduto.
Roth decide di fare il lavoro inverso, ossia di condurre la sua autobiografia disimmaginandosi.
Depurando il suo passato, spogliando la realtà dall’immaginazione, provando a raggiungere...more
Jim Leckband
It does take hubris or narcissism or whatever to write an autobiography of the "Facts" behind the written fiction. The author must believe that somebody has taken the time to read *those* works and then regards those works well enough to want to read the behind the scenes details.

Well, since I'm reading all of Roth, the author might be correct in his assumption. It mainly works since Roth approaches the same level of writing that he does in his novels. Which isn't hard since the main character...more
Michael
Only Roth would write an autobiography in which his fictional alter-ego chastises him for not being fully introspective and honest, a meta-trick fully acknowledged and in turn criticized: " . . . the book is fundamentally defensive. Just as having this letter at the end is a self-defensive trick to have it both ways." Either brilliant or exasperating or both.
Pablo Paz
Confieso que esta es la primera vez que leo la autobiografía de un autor completamente desconocido para mi… bueno en realidad el nombre de Phillip Roth ya lo había oído antes pues estaba al tanto de su fama de perpetuo candidato al premio Nóbel y en alguna ocasión leí muy buenas criticas sobre su Trilogía Americana pero solamente hasta ahí llegaba lo que conocía sobre este autor.

Tal vez leer su autobiografía no sea la manera más indicada de abordar la obra de Phillip Roth, pienso esto por dos...more
Barron Lerner
It is a given these days to treat the "facts" contained within autobiographies with a grain of salt. In the past, authors quietly manipulated events to tell a specific story with the hope that reviewers did not notice. Today, blending fiction and fact is all the rage. Whereas some autobiographers (James Frey, for example) get into trouble by falsifying information, most others get away with their constructed versions of reality.

Given Philip Roth's long career as a novelist drawing on his persona...more
Piperitapitta
Dietro la maschera.

l'antefatto

finalmente mio!*

lo inizio subito in preda ad una irrefrenabile ingordigia letteraria :-)

E mentre lui parlava, io pensavo: "In che razza di storie la gente trasforma la vita, in che razza di vite la gente trasforma le storie"
Nathan Zuckerman, in La controvita

Comincio ad essere sempre di più convinta che quest'uomo abbia in sé qualcosa di geniale, un dono naturale per la scrittura ed il sacrosanto diritto di essere premiato con un nobel!

*in effetti no: preso in presti...more
Richard
FIRST READ: I am a fan of Roth, and find myself engrossed in his books despite by aversion at times to his style, but while this one was wholly sound philosophically for me (insight into his translations of actual events into fictive ones, and a wonderful counterpoint from his own character Nathan Zuckerman to contest this autobiographical turn), I just wasn't charged during my read of this one and kept checking what page number I was on and how far I had to go. Sorry, Phil--I REALLY wanted to l...more
cheeseblab
I can't remember now why I changed my original plan--to read only Roth's fiction--and decided to read this, the second book collected in the fifth volume of the Library of America's edition, but I'm glad I did, and glad I read it so soon after The Lifespan of a Fact, whose protagonist makes a much less palatable arugument for blurring fact and fiction.

Roth's fiction is unabashedly autobiographical, of course--or maybe "abashedly autobiographical" is apter, since he spends a great deal of energy...more
Miles
Should you care about the life story of novelist Phillip Roth? I've read a few of his books (Goodbye Columbus and Portnoy's Complaint were my long ago introductions, and Everyman is my all time favorite) and I've enjoyed listening to him in interviews. I found this book worth reading because it is so redolent of, and parallel to, my father's Bronx immigrant Jewish world, and my father's experience of coming out of that world into the larger American world.

Like my father, Roth married a troubled...more
Newton
An interesting, if at times slightly tedious, autobiographical account of Philip Roth's life up to the publication of Portnoy's Complaint, the novel that made him a literary star. The book begins with a letter Roth writes to his literary alter-ego, Nathan Zuckerman, and ends with Zuckerman's reply; in these letters, Roth (and Zuckerman) can really flesh out the purpose of the book itself, and also expose some of the truth behind "the facts" (Roth, as Zuckerman, does not let himself off easily on...more
Jeremy
Well this is not the Roth you read because you love reading good writing.

It's not up to the standard set by Bukowski's Ham on Rye, but that's not purely biography, if you believe the bookjacket assignation of genre.

Anyway, the writing here is sloppy as hell, and the truest part of the whole thing is the letter from Roth's alter-ego, Zuckerman. It's true, Roth dances around motivation and culpability for the entirety, and the only hints about what hurt the most are the reappearances of "Josie" in...more
Curtis
(3.5 stars) The Facts: A Novelist's Autobiography is interesting and unconventional. It is an exploration of life, love and craft that I found a bit slow in the beginning, but eventually it pulled me in and left me wanting more. Initially, I was afraid that The Facts wouldn't be very revealing. Roth strikes me as someone who keeps his cards close to the chest; however, as the episodes of the book unfolded his life became more and more tantalizing. Just when I thought, "okay, so these are the fac...more
Melissa
Bought this book in a book store in le Marais in Paris - a book store that is also a wine bar - how perfect! I think Chicago needs one. Roth is self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-inflating, self-centered, self-promoting - but also self-aware. Which is a very underrated quality. I have always been fascinated with Roth (and his topics), but am less so after reading this, as it humanized him so much. (So much more than Zuckerman.) This is not a good read for a reader who hasn't read his work - and...more
John Otto
The "facts" part of this book, purportedly the autobiography of Philip Roth is not that interesting. Roth focuses on five events in his life, but leaves out so much that you wonder why he bothers. But then Roth has his alter ego, Zuckerman, comment on and criticize what he has written. That is very interesting, as he considers the difference between fact and fiction and explains how fiction can be more truthful than fact. What the book comes down to is not about the facts of the life of Philip R...more
Aaron
“The Facts” is billed as a memoir but I cannot help but wonder if it is actually the first “Roth” novel. As fiction writer-memoirists go, Roth is no Gabriel Garcia Marquez, or even a Bob Dylan, but as a long prolog to the Roth novels that followed, it is a weird, passable part of a series. It might be telling that the Zuckerman letters are the book’s best features, serving as Zuckerman’s rebuke to the “Duck Amuck” antics of “The Counterlife,” but it was a stylistic dead end. “Zuckerman Bound” wa...more
Rafa
Ajuste de cuentas con su primera mujer. Termina con una magnífica carta reproche de Zuckerman a Philip Roth.
Jorge
Más allá de las peripecias vividas por Roth en su etapa de formación, las páginas más interesantes de este libro se concentran en su último apartado, en el que Zuckermann, protagonista de algunas de las novelas del autor, lanza una réplica cargada de lúcidas reflexiones que ponen en tela de juicio las pretensiones de veracidad de su creador, desmontando muchas ideas preconcebidas sobre el estatuto de realidad al que pueden aspirar los géneros de la biografía y la autobiografía, y destacando, en...more
James W.  Harris
Roth's autobiographical writings here are interesting but seemed to me a bit bland... but suddenly the book is made wondrous when Roth has his fictional alter-ego Zuckerman comment on Roth's autobiography!

The book then swings into high gear, becoming an energetic, hilarious and extremely insightful commentary on Roth's own life, his view of himself, how fiction can lead to greater truths than autobiography, etc.

It's the Zuckerman commentary that moves this book from good Roth -- which is very...more
Rory Diva
i read this on audio cd.
David
Interesting mainly for Roth's description of his first wife and his insane relationship with her. The joy and relief he takes in her accidental death is amazing. I don't know why he bothered to change her name when anyone could find out her name.

I wonder if Roth made this memoir intentionally flawed just so he could publish the last chapter which is essentially a query letter about the book written to Roth by his fictional alter-ego Nathan Zuckerman.
Ángel
Jan 12, 2014 Ángel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hobbes
Si no supiera que hay un mejor Roth, le daría las cinco estrellas. Esta no es una autobiografía común y corriente. Es un corte de caja, un ajuste de cuentas entre el autor y uno de sus alter egos. A fin de cuentas, ¿quién habla y narra? Grande, pero sobre todo original, como siempre.
Madison
I thought Roth was a man after my own heart for a little while, and then I despised him, but at the end the letters between Zuckerman and himself really tie together all of the random thoughts I, and the others that other readers have, about this autobiography.

I'm also a research assistant right now for The Life Story Lab, which focuses studies around how people remember their lives.

My life is just so all-around fitting.
Judy
I read this autobiography of Philip Roth to find out what 'the facts' of his life were as opposed to the version he presents via Zuckerman et al. It is fascinating for what it tells us of Roth's life, as well as for what it doesn't tell (a lot). He starts it off with a letter to Zuckerman and ends it with a letter from Zuckerman, his alter ego, who doesn't, in this case, let Roth get off the hook lightly.
Ethan
Is it forgivable that the last chapter of this book is devoted to pointing out all the ways in which the book falls short? I'm biased, of course, but the writing is completely sharp, and he does a good job of giving what I imagine readers would have wanted in 1981. Disturbing that the pregnancy scene from My Life as a Man was the only piece of total truth in all his fiction.
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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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“Llega un momento, como me llegó a mí hace unos meses, en que se halla uno en tal estado de desamparo y confusión, que no logra comprender lo que otrora resultaba obvio: por qué hago lo que hago, por qué vivo donde vivo, por qué comparto mi vida con quien la comparto.” 1 likes
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