Dan Schwent's Reviews > Sabbath's Theater

Sabbath's Theater by Philip Roth
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Jan 03, 2012

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bookshelves: christmas-2011, 2012, homework-from-the-ladies
Read from December 27, 2011 to January 02, 2012

After the death of his longtime mistress, disgraced former puppeteer Mickey Sabbath sinks deeper and deeper into a prison of depression...

First off, Sabbath's Theater won the National Book award in 1995. It's not surprising since it was superbly written. On the other hand, it's also dirtier than a stack of used Longarm's. Seriously. Every time I thought it couldn't get any dirtier, Sabbath did something like masturbate on his mistress's grave.

There really isn't much of a plot. Sabbath's mistress dies and his life comes apart, forcing him to explore his past. Good thing he has the memories of unbelievably numerous conquests to dwell on. Sabbath's such a pervert that I couldn't seem to read more than fifty pages of this at a time. I cringed when a friend took pity on him only to catch him in the process of masturbating to a picture of his college age daughter.

There are themes and other novely things in Sabbath's Theater but it's hard to see past the river of semen to get to them. It seems to be about how people are unable to escape the prisons they create for themselves. And fornication.

It's a testament to Philip Roth's skill as a writer that he made me feel sorry for a dirty old man like Mickey Sabbath. Actually, I don't think there's a character in this book I liked.

I wonder if the next National Book award winner I read will have this much smut in it...

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Reading Progress

12/27 page 15
3.0%
02/18 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Melki (new)

Melki Best use of the line "river of semen" that I've ever read.


message 2: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Thanks! Feel free to work "river of semen" into your everyday conversations.


message 3: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Curses, now I will now try to work river of semen into conversation.


message 4: by Arminzerella (new)

Arminzerella Shocking! (whoreswhoreswhores! oh wait, that's Frank Miller...)


message 5: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent I wouldn't have thought any National Book Award winners had a footnote detailing a graphic phone sex conversation that spread across over ten pages.


message 6: by Arminzerella (new)

Arminzerella I wasn't aware that any of the National Book Award winners were so salacious. I mean, this one already sounds like masturbatory indulgence (for the author, perhaps). Maybe I should look at the list.


Patrick I thought that your description and Roth's pathetic character in the form of Sabbath was hilarious!


message 8: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Patrick wrote: "I thought that your description and Roth's pathetic character in the form of Sabbath was hilarious!"

Thanks! Sabbath was such a loser!


message 9: by Arthur (new)

Arthur Good review helping somewhat to understand how such a depraved person as Sabbath could enter the literary world.


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