Taka's Reviews > The Human Stain

The Human Stain by Philip Roth
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's review
Apr 30, 10

bookshelves: contemporary, japan_jul07-aug11, post-modern_lit
Read from April 25 to 30, 2010

I'm surprised. No, I'm shocked. I didn't feel like flinging the book against the wall.

When I read Philip Roth's atrocious Operation Shylock almost two years ago, I had black-listed Roth as a self-important, self-indulgent, masturbatory writer with a bit of humor and good prose but nothing to speak of in terms of storytelling.

The Human Stain as I was informed, was much better than Operation Shylock. There were actually scenes I enjoyed: Coleman Silk's childhood, Les Farley's trip to the Chinese restaurant, the insufferable French professor Delphine Roux's comical struggles in America. Most of Roth's writing is abstract telling, but he at least pulls it off at times.

Roth dedicates a lot of time and space to long-winded philosophizing that goes on and on through a single gargantuan paragraph that take up pages at a time. It sometimes got to me but I managed to read it through without nodding off, which is a feat in itself for Mr. Roth.

I hated Nathan Zuckerman. I found him repulsive, powerless, and extraneous. I just have a hard time sympathizing - let alone liking - this old, puny, passive writer. Really, he's got not much going for him as a main character. It was probably because he plays a relatively minor role in this book that I could read it through without feeling angry.

Anyways, I'm probably not going to come back to Roth for a while.

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