Tony Cohen's Reviews > Portnoy's Complaint

Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
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Jan 27, 08

Read in January, 2008

** spoiler alert ** There was something very comforting about this book to me. Maybe it had to do with he evolution of the Jew in America (being Jewish and all), or maybe it had to do with the general value/truth of the US melting pot (if you happen to be able to pass for a white person).

I loved how his childhood was just so foreign to me. It seemed like out of another century, not merely the generation before. Who are these Jews who are so unsure of themselves and their isolation, and belief that they are so easily spotted by the rest of the whole wide goyim world?

I also loved the ending, the truth about how being 'Jewish' in America was completely different from being Jewish in Israel, and maybe the weak mensch was really the ghetto, rather than the race. I also loved how his work reflected the truth Betty Friedan hinted at so long ago (I am pretty sure it was her). She was talking about how all these children of middle-class wealth were seen as unfit for the military because they had psychological problems, while poorer kids were fine.

Eventually they divined that it was the molly-coddling of the middle-class house wife mother who implanted their neurosis on these poor kids (and poorer mothers since they were the ones unfortunate enough to be stuck in just the worst age, where they had to be educated enough to understand the world, and then be told they had no place in for a small sliver of linoleum). And what women completely replicated this phenomenon.....Portnoy's mo...the Jewish housewife...

In this book, his writing took me to a place I have never been, and am glad will never have to go to.
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