Mark's Reviews > The Human Stain

The Human Stain by Philip Roth
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's review
Dec 31, 2008

it was ok

Philip Roth appears to be a decent writer and I'm going to trying reading something else by him, but unfortunately after a good start this book makes a sudden postmodernist turn and disappears up its own backside.

We start out thinking this is a book about the relationships and secrets of four people surrounding a New England college. Then after a third of the way into the book, surprise, this is actually a book about a fifth character who is writing about the other four characters. Except the fifth character barely knows anything about the others so it is, I'm guessing, actually a book about the fifth character as he projects his worldview on to the others. But this puzzle does not pull me in in the least. For example we get a scene where Roth has his fictional narrator imagine one of the "main" characters overhearing a conversion between three unknown other people. What is the reader to make of this? Like the schoolchild asked to define the difference between ignorance and apathy, my response is "I don't know and I don't care".
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