Evan's Reviews > The Dying Animal

The Dying Animal by Philip Roth
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Mar 19, 09

bookshelves: 2009-reads, tami-tomes, deliciously-nasty, yearning, roth, disease-of-the-week
Read in March, 2009

I wish I could say that it is just as entertaining reading the puritan backlash Roth engenders among a large number of Goodreads' reviewers as it is to read Roth himself. But, alas, I cannot say that.

So, all right, this is not the masterpiece that, say, "Portnoy's Complaint" is, but I also can't deny that Roth speaks to me on every page. And that's because the man refuses to lie about human sexuality and motivation. What he says makes a lot of people uncomfortable. In many quarters that's a prerequisite of art.

And it's funny that reactions to him that claim to stem from positions of enlightenment (eg., offended feminist sensibilities) strike me as coming from merely a mutated form of Victorianism. Roth addresses that very American tendency in this book; he might as well have been quoting from Hofstadter's "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life."

So, yeah, on the surface this is about a professor who "abuses" his position of "glamor" and power to seduce students, or at least ones who've just graduated, his classes being part of the leading-up-to process of the conquest. But in this framework much is examined about aging and longing and the choices, good or bad or both, that people make in how they choose to live. There's much discussed about the mixed legacy of the sexual revolution of the '60s. The conflict between the "bad" father and the "noble" son, the latter overcompensating for the injustices of neglect he felt, is well examined, also.

The fact of the matter is, I visited a professor yesterday on the campus where I work to gather information for a music article I am writing. He's in his 40s and has a well-known reputation on campus for plucking his plums among the student body. He does the very same thing that Roth's protagonist in this book does. He even introduced me to his latest "assistant," a smoking hot young blond ex-student whose knowing smiles to him during our interview spoke volumes.

So this shit happens, folks. So yeah, shoot the fucking messenger.

Readers need to stop personalizing so much when authors allow their characters to speak or act. I mean is the writing fabulous? Are the points well stated and thoughtful? Is there good basis in history and philosophy for what he talks about? YES, YES and YES!

And Roth's characters get to be promiscuous and fuck, and you don't. Don't get so frustrated and take it out on him.

I've just surpassed the halfway point, and Roth just fucking rocks, if you want to cut to the chase.

Just finished. Roth says so much about life and death. There's a scene close to the end, the passing of his best friend. All I can say is, I've never read a more intimate and moving depiction of a person's last hours. And it's not drawn out. He says just what needs to be said. And then there's more, but, don't want to spoil it.

The Dying Animal, the slow death of the body. Mortality. Who could have anything new to say? Does Roth say anything new? Maybe not, but it's all in HOW it's said.

I had to give this five stars. Roth just leaves me so full, so satisfied. I can't rate it any less.
23 likes · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Dying Animal.
sign in »

Reading Progress

03/18/2009 page 95
show 1 hidden update…

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

dateDown_arrow    newest »

message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

fanfuckingtastic, Z.

message 2: by Keri (new)

Keri amen. thank you for the review. I've not read Roth, only seen the movies and have had the same opinions that your review gives. Trying to decide on which book to start with, I'm scanning GR reviews... yours hit the point right on.

Veronica Sex is a metaphor for life……………..you need to read beyond the sex scenes…what is he really saying, are you listening? Kepesh is a tragic man, flawed. But so is Consuela, what is she doing there?
Anyway, I am in the middle of the book and I love it! More later. vp

Veronica An insightful look in the mind of the eternal ladies man, David Kapesh. What are the women in his life like to him, what is sex, what is love…………Roth goes in without apologies to find out, and once we do, we understand what life and death mean to him, and fear…….

message 5: by DJ (last edited Nov 18, 2013 12:48PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

DJ Seifert Is it secondarily a look into the desire of a women for a man who is thoughtful, dialogic with her, and not pushy? Humans are complex (yes, men can be too), and Kapeah is portrayed with a dark yet understanding wisdom that searches for something--perhaps beauty eros), perhaps love while challenged by the gravitation of attachment.

Sarah Gatti Thank you for this review. I love Roth is so honest and up front about sex and sexuality. He isn't pornographic. He has a point. And, most of all, he confronts the human situation, which few of us are willing to do. Thank you for such a thought-out review.

back to top