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Exit Ghost

(Complete Nathan Zuckerman #9)

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  4,825 ratings  ·  492 reviews
Like Rip Van Winkle returning to his hometown to find that all has changed, Nathan Zuckerman comes back to New York, the city he left eleven years before. Walking the streets like a revenant, he quickly makes three connections that explode his carefully protected solitude. One is with a young couple with whom, in a rash moment, he offers to swap homes. From the moment he m ...more
Paperback, 292 pages
Published September 4th 2008 by Vintage (first published October 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.49  · 
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 ·  4,825 ratings  ·  492 reviews

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David Schaafsma
“Exit, ghost”—in Hamlet (and Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and so on).

“Reading/writing people, we are finished, we are ghosts witnessing the end of a literary era"—Lonoff, in The Ghost Writer

“. . . The end is so immense, it is its own poetry. It requires little rhetoric. Just state it plainly”—Roth, Exit Ghost

Exit Ghost is the last of the Nathan Zuckerman series of ten books (yay, done!), Zuck at 71, as was Roth at the time. No one really knows who Roth is, of course; he’s the literary version of Jok
Adam Dalva
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And with this I come to the end of the Zuckerman books. I can't imagine reading this w/o the context of the earlier writing, particularly without The Ghostwriter, which this neatly bookends. As a stand-alone work, it, alone of the Zuckermans, wouldn't quite function. But as the last chapter in a massive writing project - it's lovely. Melancholy, but there are thrilling moments where the Zuckerman of old surfaces. The other strange aspect is encountering, for the first time, Nathan in a world I k ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
I started reading Roth with American Pastoral which intrigued me and then Portnoy's Complaint which fascinated me. I have become deeply attached to Roth's writing having now read 19 of his books over the past few months. As much as I loved Sabbath's Theater, The Counterlife, Operation Shylock. the Nemesis tetralogy (and hot having read any of the David Kapesh books as yet), I feel that the most monumental writing of his is the Zuckerman cycle which Exit Ghost closes. It is a neat, clean closure. ...more
Jason Koivu
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Roth makes me so depressed. I grew up on Charlie Brown holiday specials and Mr. Rodgers, so I feel right at home!

In Exit Ghost we have an aging writer, greatly concerned with his failing bladder and memory, worrying his way to an early grave. However, before he's allowed a graceful exit, a young woman comes along and reignites his useless libido. As if that wasn't enough, a young man forces himself upon the writer compelling him to defend a revered and long dead author with feeble rage a
Sam K G
Dec 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Roth fans
Shelves: fiction
In characteristic Roth style, the novel is filled with references to the great writers. Joseph Conrad features prominently; Zuckerman and Jamie discuss his novella ‘The Shadow Line’ in depth. E.I. Lonoff is often compared with Bernard Malamud, and a small biographical conundrum in the life of Nathaniel Hawthorne receives rather intense scrutiny. Passing references are made to Isaac B. Singer, Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, and William Faulkner. One of Saul Bellow’s novels is ment ...more
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you liked this book, I have some very fine cloth to sell you. It has special properties which make it invisible to the eyes of fools and simpletons. You might want to make a nice sweater out of it. It is very, very expensive, though -- a cloth fit for an emperor.

All right, that's obnoxious of me. But I don't come to this novel as someone who is unfamiliar with Philip Roth (I liked Ghost Writer, loved Goodbye, Columbus and think American Pastoral is almost a masterpiece), and thus I don't feel
W.D. Clarke
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read a lot of Roth (not all of them, but most of the Zuckermans, and this was a fitting send-off for old Nathan, and an ambiguous riposte of sorts to those readers and critics who would speciously equate him with Roth—as we all tend to do at times with authors, in our moments of forgetfulness, weakness, envy or spite), and this was one of the most purely enjoyable for me for some weird reason, and I wish it wasn't as short as it is. It has something to do with my not knowing quite where I s ...more
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A phenomenal five star book. Looks like a tiny book to be read on a Friday, but I found that I needed time to read and reread many sentences. So many of the sentences and paragraphs belong in quotes stand there and force you to wonder how one can write so perfectly. I started off reading this in my Film Noir inner voice then shifted to my Tell Tale Heart voice - finally I just read it the way I read Sprinhgsteen lyrics with respect. There is a great story, settings and characters in there too, b ...more
Lisa Reads & Reviews

I need not critique Roth, I think. He is a skilled and professional writer recognized as such through numerous awards, etc. Instead, I'll use this review to remind myself of what was interesting and instructive about this novel: 1) The narrative flow, sentence construction, and all mechanics of writing are smoothly modeled here, and make for good reference. I simply enjoyed the writing. 2) The overwhelming theme, and one that will be useful for understanding a population of humanity that I'll no
Andrew Smith
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To say that this is a grim story of an old man’s battle with incontinence, impotence and lust for a much younger woman would be technically correct, but it really doesn’t do this book justice. Nathan Zuckerman (Roth’s alter ego) is the fictional writer Roth has featured in nine of his novels, with this almost certainly being the last.

The story follows the absorbing The Human Stain as Zuckerman travels back to his native NYC after a prolonged exile in the rural Berkshires. In Manhattan he meets
I guess today is not my day with books. Another one I tried to get into but it just lost me about 30 pages into it. The man is dying. Doesn't like modern technology and well that's about all I got out of this.
robin friedman
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Growing Old With Fiction

Set in Manhattan in 2004, Philip Roth's novel "Exit Ghost" (2007) is a product of the writer's old age which plays tantalizingly with both biography and autobiography. The book is a story of the nature of fiction and creative writing and of the vicissitudes of aging.

The novel's voice is that of Roth's frequently-used character, the author Nathan Zuckerman. At the age of 71 Zuckerman has left his 11-year home in a remote community in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusett
Sep 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Phillip Roth is killing Nathan Zuckerman. And he’s doing it in the least humane – but most human – ways: depriving him of his dignity, stripping him of his sexual prowess. Roth, who for much of his career has allowed readers to view Zuckerman as an extension, if not mirror, of himself, toys with this conceit even more obviously in Exit Ghost. Impotent Zuckerman (living an acetic mountain life shared in reality by reclusive Roth) meets a young woman who excites sexual feelings that he’s by now in ...more
Feb 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably one of my least favorite novels of Philip Roth. I think it's the Zuckerman thing. I preferred all of the Roth books, Plot Against America, American Pastoral, etc.
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exit Ghost is a literary puzzle palace in which the narrator, Nathan Zuckerman, struggles with his own ghost, the ghost of a writer he admired, E.I. Lonoff, and late in the book, the ghost of George Plimpton.

Perhaps the best line in the book has to do with describing fiction as rumination in narrative form...not as representation. Zuckerman, a writer, comes up with this line as he attempts to persuade a brassy litterateur named Kliman (recent Harvard grad in need of a subject) not to write a bio
Feb 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book on aging, the unpleasant sides of it, and the urge of the human spirit to be young again despite infirmity and the looming prospect of insignificance and death.

An aging writer, Nathan Zukerman, Roth’s fictitious self, has retreated from the literary and celebrity world of New York into the mountains of New England, in the aftermath of death threats. Once safe in his hideout, cut off from TV, the Internet and other distractions, he is afflicted with prostate cancer which renders him impote
Oct 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to read one of the world's best living writers
With the election around the corner, Exit Ghost struck a nerve with me because it takes place in the weeks around the 2004 election - and in NYC, where the young characters are passionately hoping that Kerry will win.

Nathan Zuckerman is a renowned writer who has lived in isolation in nature for the last 11 years because he started getting death threats in NYC addressed: "Dear Jew Bastard." A prostate cancer survivor, he returns to New York in his 70s for treatment for his incontinence. He's swep
Lee Klein
Jun 18, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First-person Zuckerman. My fave sort. Enjoyable, readable. Generous conversational narration with typical Shakespearean flourishes. Trailblazes a new genre of chick lit for the geriatric set: instead of being all about men, marriage, fashion, and babies, it's about death, impotence, incontinence, dead 20th century literary figures, senility, and arrow of desires aimed at the much-younger loins of alluring ladies. Like Everyman, I felt this one was a little less than Roth can do. Everyman felt li ...more
Oct 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is only my second Roth novel and my first of his Zuckerman series. Roth does not protect himself. He puts his guts on the page. I like that about him. Zuckerman has become impotent and incontinent and has been Thoreauing it in an isolated cabin when circumstances lead him back to New York City where he runs into his deceased writing mentor’s lover, now 70 something and with a brain tumor that disfigures her ancient face. She’s confused and rambling around in the past. He also meets a young ...more
Dec 17, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dusty by: Warren Ilchman
Shelves: read-in-2008
So, I know Philip Roth is supposed to be the United States' greatest living novelist and therefore beyond reproach, but I really, really struggled with this book. Thankfully, it was brief (only 300 pages) and so throughout the slow, redundant first half of the book I could remind myself that the end wasn't really that far away. Maybe I'm just not the right audience for a Roth novel. I felt much of the time that I was being lectured to about literature (bad -- I wanted a novel, not a book of lit- ...more
Oct 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every few years, grouchy old reclusive misanthrope Philip Roth emerges from his country home in Connecticut with a novel, like Moses at Mt. Sinai bearing the tablets to the Isrealites-no, wait, FUCK THAT, more like Prometheus descending from Mt. Olympus giving fire to the Greeks-and yet again he's done something really special. This book is so sad and so funny, it's maybe the best example yet of the author's famous mission statement: "Sheer playfulness and deadly seriousness are my two best frie ...more
Feb 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd give it more than five stars if I could. I love Roth, and this book is a distillation of all his classic themes. God, I love Roth. Nathan Zuckerman at 71, returning to New York City after self-exile of 11 years, trying to seduce a 20-something woman, while vowing to do evertyhing in his power to prevent E.I. Lonoff's biography from being written, while meeting with Lonoff's erstwhile young mistress now an old woman close to death, at the time of the Kerry/Bush election. It just has it all. I ...more
Jason Coleman
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since a career-saving, late-90s winning streak that began with Sabbath’s Theater and finished with The Human Stain—all peculiarly un-autobiographical novels with big page counts—Roth has cranked out one mediocre novella after another. Such a weird development; I found the good books and bad books equally unexpected. Exit Ghost is the lone triumph among those short, 21st-century works, and it succeeds, I think, because Roth for once is hip to his own limits and conceits. The high self-regard, see ...more
Nov 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About a man who briefly forgets to accept his solution to his failing, aged body - retreating into the country, into work, into isolation - and returns to New York. There he gets the scent of the hunger and combat that drove him in his youth, and is battered by the agonies of renewed desire and fantasy in the face of the biological fact of decay.

Roth's distinct, solid lyrical gravity takes a little time to get used to, but once accepted seems the only way to tell his story. The pull and repel of
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never read Philip Roth. I thought he was a "man's" writer and, from the discussions I heard, that he wrote mostly about the fact that young men want to have sex all the time. Which is really not nearly as interesting as young men think it is.

But I picked up this book recently and read it one day, could not put it down. It is the most recent, maybe last book about Roth's protagonist Nathan Zuckerman who the public probably thinks is Roth's alter-ego.

I loved this book. Maybe it was a man's boo
Marius van Blerck
May 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm currently plowing through the gripes of Roth, and Exit Ghost is the fourth and latest book of his that I've completed. As with the others, I started this one really not expecting to enjoy it terribly much, and ended up impressed. I look forward to reading more of the enigmatic Nathan Zuckerman in his earlier life, after having experienced the angst of his ageing experiences. Roth really has a gift for describing interesting situations that in other hands would tend to be tedious episodes. Mo ...more
May 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any Roth fan or fan of Jewish lit
Almost seems like a follow up to Everyman rather than the ninth Nathan Zuckerman book, but if you've read any of the Zuckerman series then this is a fitting end to those books. It's not a grand epic, that's not what Roth does anyway. It's a brilliant little tale of a reclusive author re-entering society for a brief couple weeks during the Kerry/Bush cat fight. It also has the most graphic descriptions of a man's incontinence and waning physical abilities that I've ever read. If you like that sor ...more
Oct 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This slender, urgent gem from Philip Roth works like a thriller and a literary high-wire act, a wrily pseudo-autobiographical novel that warns against the temptation to draw connections between art and life. All this may not seem so surprising, but it is at once a timeless and timely book (set around the 2004 election, and serving as a portrait of modern day New York and the plague of cell phones) about death and sex, and, therefore, life. It's prime Roth, and a quick ride. And luckily, I feel o ...more
Mar 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read it, I said it, I stole your momma's credit....I forget the rest of the rhyme.
*at some point I'm hoping my life calms down enough to actually review this book so I can add my voice to the itsy bitsy pool of people out there reading Roth. I mean come on, the guy deserves an audience for his scribblings and until I share MY opinion, I fear he will not get it. Hold on Roth, hold on!
Jan 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Elderly diaper-wearing novelist lusts insatiably after hot young married thing.
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Philip Milton Roth was 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 in ...more

Other books in the series

Complete Nathan Zuckerman (9 books)
  • The Ghost Writer
  • Zuckerman Unbound
  • The Anatomy Lesson
  • The Prague Orgy
  • The Counterlife
  • American Pastoral (The American Trilogy, #1)
  • I Married a Communist (The American Trilogy, #2)
  • The Human Stain (The American Trilogy, #3)

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