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Portnoy's Complaint
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Buddy Reads > Portnoy's Complaint -- Buddy Read

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Petrichor | 300 comments Hi everybody!

This is the buddy read of Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth in honour of his passing a few months ago.

Please feel free to join us!


Darren (dazburns) | 2017 comments excellent!
I will be reading this, but may be a week or two before I can get started...


Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1236 comments I have the book downloaded from the library and ready to go. I’ve only read the chapter headings so far, but oh my! I might want to only read this when the kids aren’t around!


Petrichor | 300 comments It turned out that I will have to read a lot for work and that September will be a quite busy month. I am not sure how much time I will have for reading this book, so I started already.

Leni wrote: "I might want to only read this when the kids aren’t around!"
Depending on the age of your kids, I wouldn't leave it lying around somewhere. It's quite explicit. But funny!


Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1236 comments I've read the first chapter. It made me feel like a great parent. Lol
Although I must say that the Portnoy parents leave the benchmark for good parenting at a level where most people can just step over it.


Petrichor | 300 comments Haha! I know what you mean. But they seemed to have sacrificed a lot and only wanted the best for their kids.

Also, the book was published in 1969, so if an adult Alex tells the story one can estimate when his childhood must have been. Luckily, parenting has moved on since then, but I think you can't really apply today's standards of parenting to the parents in that story. He seemed to have adored them, even if they left deep psychological wounds. To me, it felt like they tried very hard to fulfill every jewish-parent stereotype they could find.

I'm in the third chapter, but have tried only to refer to the first one.


Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1236 comments According to the definition of “Portnoy’s complaint” that’s given in the front of the book, Alex was born in 1933. So yes, vastly different ways of raising children. They do seem like a stereotype. I’ve read the second chapter now. They’re like the ultimate stereotype of New York (ok, New Jersey) Jewish parents. And Alex is like the most neurotic part of every Woody Allen character ever. It’s all a bit silly. But I’m curious about adult Alex now. Chapter three tomorrow.


Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1236 comments How are we doing here? I had to take a break after chapter 3. The Freudiansm just got too rampant. But I'm ready to get back to it now.


Darren (dazburns) | 2017 comments still intending to get to this - probably start early next week...


Petrichor | 300 comments I'm in the middle of chapter 3.
Unfortunately I didn't have much time recently.

I've also been reluctant to post anything not to spoil things for the people who are behind me. How should we deal with that? Should we put everything into spoiler tags and mention the chapter up to which we refer?


Darren (dazburns) | 2017 comments started this yesterday and whizzed through 94 pages in 2 sittings - very enjoyable, with laugh-out-loud bits interspersed with emerging more serious issues...


message 12: by Leni (new) - rated it 2 stars

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1236 comments I've finished chapter 4 - "Cunt Crazy" and while the book has its moment I do feel like I've just sat through all the most neurotic parts of every Woody Allen movie and every bad sex scene from every Ben Stiller movie. If it hadn't been for the more serious issues I think I would have bailed on this book in sheer exhaustion.


message 13: by Petrichor (last edited Sep 28, 2018 06:11AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Petrichor | 300 comments I've been reading this with an almost constant smirk on my face.

I especially love the writing style. One must be a great observer to be able to describe scenes and characters they way he does. Although I don't have comparable characters in my own life, I feel like I know this family from way back. Reading this, it feels so real that I think I'm right there with him.

Another funny aspect is the Yiddish which is sprinkled across the book. I'm not Jewish, but a native German speaker, so I understand a large majority of the words. It's funny to see which words he chooses to express in Yiddish, what they mean in German and what they express in the book.

According to my dad (who is a big Philip Roth fan and is the one who recommended this book to me as the first Philip Roth book to read) there is going to be one VERY explicit scene which is going to stick with you, whether you want it or not. I don't think I've gotten to that scene yet. Maybe it's the one Leni alluded to.
I've finished chapter 3, BTW.

Thoroughly enjoying it!


Darren (dazburns) | 2017 comments Petrichor wrote: "I've been reading this with an almost constant smirk on my face.

I especially love the writing style. One must be a great observer to be able to describe scenes and characters they way he does..."


what Petrichor said!

I also thoroughly enjoyed this, whizzing through it in about 3 days
very typical Jewish family humour - I was reminded of Woody Allen's film Radio Days and also the relationship between Howard Wolowitz and his mother in Big Bang Theory
excuse me while I go and add American Pastoral to my TBR list..


Tammy | 393 comments I read this one last year and wish the details were fresher in my mind so I could participate. It was the second Roth book I read last year (I ended up reading four of his works by the end of the year and two more this year). I guess you could say I've become a fan. American Pastoral was by far my favorite.

What do I remember? Guilt, shame, exaggerated stereotypes, excessive self love/self loathing, the liver, the ladies, and back again to the guilt. It's a satirical look at what it is to be a Jewish man in post WWII America. Something along those lines.


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