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The second to last novel Roth wrote before he retired, The Humbling, is the second lowest rated 3.21 Roth novel on Goodreads the lowest being The Breast, 3.18 about a man who wakes up one morning as in Kafka s Metamorphosis to discover he is a breast 3.21 is a low rating for Goodreads, and at a glance it appears many people hated it It s part of a loosely connected series of final books Roth wrote, called Nemeses, that focuses on decline and death sounds like fun, eh So I will admit The second to last novel Roth wrote before he retired, The Humbling, is the second lowest rated 3.21 Roth novel on Goodreads the lowest being The Breast, 3.18 about a man who wakes up one morning as in Kafka s Metamorphosis to discover he is a breast 3.21 is a low rating for Goodreads, and at a glance it appears many people hated it It s part of a loosely connected series of final books Roth wrote, called Nemeses, that focuses on decline and death sounds like fun, eh So I will admit I had low expectations for this novel.And so, at least half way into it, I was increasingly annoyed by it Simon Axler is a famous actor who plays Prospero and Macbeth at the Kennedy Center, fails, gets terrible reviews and falls apart, ending up in a psych hospital, suicidal Okay, so far so not encouraging I mean Failure happens, but how do you handle it Simon thinks about suicide and the arts What was remarkable was the frequency with which suicide enters into drama, as though it were a formula fundamental to the drama, not necessarily supported by the action as directed by the workings of the genre itself Suicide is also a consideration for some characters in the two previous Nemeses books, Everyman and Indignation So I wasn t surprised to see it here, as it is one choice some people consider making as they face a challenging or hopeless future I m not sympathetic, the suicide rate is going up, it s an issue, but in the second section of the novel I get less sympathetic, when Axler, 65, meets Pegeen, 40, the lesbian daughter of old friends, and abruptly begins a sexual relationship with her Ach I suddenly thought I was watching a Woody Allen movie, Manhattan or a few others from Allen about an unhappy older man rescued by an affair with a younger woman And that he would hope to turn this younger woman, buying herfeminine clothes, getting her to get a very different hair cut than she had ever had, ugh Then this couple invites yet another woman into the scenario, to create a threes me, and wow, everything is going great, even though Simon has a bad back and no longer has a career Hey Unhappy 65 year olds men Try this at home Seduce a young lesbian and your life will improve and your depression will vanish Disappointing At one point the desperate Simon imagines that Pegeen might like a child with him, he fantasizes a happy future with her, he creates this elaborate fiction and begins performing it for himself An act of hope, but finally, not realistic, alas But that is, as it turns out, the point we are to discover Simon s getting involved with this woman was never going to work, it was just a kind of experiment for her, he was her Dad s famous actor friend, wow, and a hopeless fantasy for him She s a lesbian What I liked about this book is that it focuses on performance the failing performer Simon tried to perform the role of Pegeen s lover and it was a failure Sad double whammy No acting career, no rescuing lover Pegeen tries to perform a straight woman, just as Simon tries to perform a role no longer possible for him It s sad, but sadder still that he sees no hopeful role for himself any So it s not a happy novel, finally involving two crazy jilted lovers and also, as it turns out, guns See, Pegeen had prior to hooking up with Simon dumped Louise, the dean of a small college whom she was having an affair with, and Louise, crazy with residual jealousy, confronts Simon, and then Pegeen dumps Simon The drama So I know what you are thinking at this point Eh.But I really began to like this novelandafter I reread The Seagull, which makes its appearance in the conclusion of The Humbling This tragicomic play involves a playwright who goes into despair over the critical reception of a play he has been writing, and his subsequent failure of a relationship with a young woman, Nina Roth loved Chekhov, abd he loved this play, and it figures in the shaping of The Humbling in many ways The tone of The Humbling feels like tragic farce, it s so ridiculous in places, but read through The Seagull, you can see how he was inspired by it The Seagull has melo drama in it, despairing characters, but Chekhov s play iscomic, featuring warmer characters There s no joking around in The Humbling Chekhov s play is better, because of the humor, but still, I like the connection.I like this book, though, finally, it is not one of his towering achievements I didn t like it as much as Everyman or Indignation But there s at its core this stoical dimension to it that works it s way into all the final novels, a kind of drive to accept what is given to you and live with it, work with it, something Chekhov would have been pleased to see Play the moment, play whatever plays for you in that moment, and then go to the next moment It doesn t matter where you re going Don t worry about that Just take it moment, moment, moment, moment [[ Free Book ]] ⇨ The Humbling ☔ Everything is over for Simon Axler One of the leading American stage actors of his generation, now in his s, he has lost his magic, his talent and his assurance Into this shattering account of inexplicable and terrifying self evacuation bursts a counterplot of unusual erotic desire As far as myths go, Philip Roth has the Distinguished Old Man Disgraced and Betrayed DOMDAB prototype down Oh yeah, he s truly the master Rushdie s McEwan s brand of DOMDAB always parades about his previous experiences ever so distinguished heights in career and love a patina of affluence settles over everything very megauncomfortably I am myself allergic to this type of literary dust Coatzee s tragic DOMDAB see Disgrace, Slow Man, Diary of a Bad Year surrounds himself with an As far as myths go, Philip Roth has the Distinguished Old Man Disgraced and Betrayed DOMDAB prototype down Oh yeah, he s truly the master Rushdie s McEwan s brand of DOMDAB always parades about his previous experiences ever so distinguished heights in career and love a patina of affluence settles over everything very megauncomfortably I am myself allergic to this type of literary dust Coatzee s tragic DOMDAB see Disgrace, Slow Man, Diary of a Bad Year surrounds himself with an unexpected ruthlessness that segues quite commonly into violence The Humbling finds a middle ground sex scenes are explicitly charged orbiting, lingering anecdotes of American tragedy are told in a proper realistic American vernacular a sustained pathos that makes Roth soooo The contemporary Shit Damn, he died John Crace over at The Guardian has written a beautiful parody of this and here s my favourite bit After his release, Axler had retreated to his farmhouse in upstate New York and it was there that Pegeen had visited him Her parents were old friends and he had known her since she was a baby, suckling at her mother s breast Now she was 40, a lesbian teaching at a progressive women s college in Vermont Have you ever slept with a man he asked Not forthan 20 years, Pegeen replied But John Crace over at The Guardian has written a beautiful parody of this and here s my favourite bit After his release, Axler had retreated to his farmhouse in upstate New York and it was there that Pegeen had visited him Her parents were old friends and he had known her since she was a baby, suckling at her mother s breast Now she was 40, a lesbian teaching at a progressive women s college in Vermont Have you ever slept with a man he asked Not forthan 20 years, Pegeen replied But there s something about your arthritic body I find irresistible I can only make love if you re on top of me because my back s playing up, he said, fondling her heavy breasts You re a smooth talking lesbo converter, PhilipIt s Simon Whatever No one else could make me want cock He started to buy her expensive lingerie, and though it grieved him that her parents were concerned about the age gap between Pegeen and him, he was greatly cheered up when her former lover Louise turned up at his house distraught with grief Why has she left me Louise cried Because it s my book and in my books younger women always want to have sex with me She had now become insatiable As it s you, Philip, I mean Simon, Pegeen had said, I m up for the full range of dirty old man sexual fantasies Bring on the anal sex, the dildos, the strap ons and the threesomes with another girl with a shaved bush Hello, said Tracy I ve never met you before but it s always been my fantasy to have sex with a 40 year old woman with a green strap on and a 65 year old man And, by the way, I ve just shaved my bush You re the best What was remarkable was the frequency with which suicide enters into drama, as though it were a formula fundamental to the drama, not necessarily supported by the action as directed by the workings of the genre itselfPhilip Roth, The HumblingNot my favorite Roth It reads like a Greek tragedy mixed with a bit of Chekhov, but somehow it just doesn t work for me I ll admit that I avoided reading these later, smaller Roth novels for some time I felt as if they were a bit of an author s induWhat was remarkable was the frequency with which suicide enters into drama, as though it were a formula fundamental to the drama, not necessarily supported by the action as directed by the workings of the genre itselfPhilip Roth, The HumblingNot my favorite Roth It reads like a Greek tragedy mixed with a bit of Chekhov, but somehow it just doesn t work for me I ll admit that I avoided reading these later, smaller Roth novels for some time I felt as if they were a bit of an author s indulgence an aging, well respected writer tossing off a few novellas toward the end of his career for money and because ALL he does is write I now am ready to eat those words a bit, but not necessarily with THIS novella This one IS a bit indulgent, but still it is Philip Roth, so even when he is indulgent, he still manages to shock and move the reader Anyway, not as good as his other, late career novellas Nemesis Indignation I see these books as being Roth trying to exercise some final demons before putting his pen down I m not sure if the demon is gone, or if I even liked this book, but it still is impossible to not respect and like Roth even when he disappoints Wow What a book I feel sorry for anyone who s going to borrow my hardc0ver copy of this, coz it s highlighted to death Almost every page has a line or two or three or four, highlighted that s how brilliant and quotable this book is.I must admit, I ve always been curious about Roth s writing, and it s a shame that this is his first book I ve read well, completed I tried reading the Human Stain a long while ago, but I guess, like some of Saul Bellow s books, there are certain Literary Maste Wow What a book I feel sorry for anyone who s going to borrow my hardc0ver copy of this, coz it s highlighted to death Almost every page has a line or two or three or four, highlighted that s how brilliant and quotable this book is.I must admit, I ve always been curious about Roth s writing, and it s a shame that this is his first book I ve read well, completed I tried reading the Human Stain a long while ago, but I guess, like some of Saul Bellow s books, there are certain Literary Masterpieces that cannot appreciated until you ve devoured a substantial amount of good writing or a substantial amount of good writing has devoured you In this case, it s a little bit of both I won t go as far as to say my palette is refined, but I have an appreciation for writing such as his and his peers Okay, enough about me.The most striking thing about The Humbling is not the strength of the narrative voice, or the well littered anecdotes, but the depth of the humanity in Axler s plight It resonates, and even though it s too close to home, it s comforting especially if you re caught up in any creative endeavor, where ceaseless doubt and endless uncertainty dog your every waking breathe Axler isn t the embodiment of everything we wish to be, but he goes through his crisis, existential and otherwise, with a kind of graceless hope that s both empowering and endearing.I wouldn t want to grow up to be Axler, but it wouldn t be too much of a tragedy if I did A famous 60 something classical actor loses his acting ability and becomes suicidal, then takes up with the 40 year old lesbian daughter of some mutual friends and they embark on some kinky sex I guess she was just waiting for an older man to turn her straight in this brief, slight novel by one of America s best novelists Seriously a few weeks ago I read American Pastoral, and came away thinking it one of the most powerful novels of the past quarter century I was initially interested in A famous 60 something classical actor loses his acting ability and becomes suicidal, then takes up with the 40 year old lesbian daughter of some mutual friends and they embark on some kinky sex I guess she was just waiting for an older man to turn her straight in this brief, slight novel by one of America s best novelists Seriously a few weeks ago I read American Pastoral, and came away thinking it one of the most powerful novels of the past quarter century I was initially interested in the idea of an actor losing his or her powers like a thespian Prospero, a role that s evoked early on but Roth doesn t follow through with this theme The opening section, partly set in a psychiatric hospital, is intriguing But the book soon devolves into a bunch of sex scenes that just feel like wanking off.I liked the ending, which alludes to the theory of Chekhov s gun appropriate, since there is an autumnal Chekhovian feel about the plot And the book is generally well written I don t think Roth is capable of writing a bad sentence.If the 140 page book had been included in a collection of stories or novellas, say The Humbling And Other Stories, it would have been okay Forgivable But a stand alone novel It s indeed humbling especially for the mighty Roth about one simon axler, a world renowned stage actor who is humbled by the fact that he s lost his gift he doesn t know how to play a scene, his timing is off, the words come out sounding false, he cannot get out of his mind and lose himself in the role so he lays around his house in the woods and contemplates suicide all the world s a stage identity and other important themes aside, what is interesting here and what, i suspect, certain reviewers will write about upon the release of this bo about one simon axler, a world renowned stage actor who is humbled by the fact that he s lost his gift he doesn t know how to play a scene, his timing is off, the words come out sounding false, he cannot get out of his mind and lose himself in the role so he lays around his house in the woods and contemplates suicide all the world s a stage identity and other important themes aside, what is interesting here and what, i suspect, certain reviewers will write about upon the release of this book is how meta roth is getting he s always been pretty biographical, sure, but i, for one, feel roth, like simon axler, has lost his touch is the humbling a cry for help a literary suicide letter approached in that light, the book is certainly madeinteresting well, i love the old coot as flawed as parts might be particularly the third volume , his USA trilogy is, for my money, as astonishing and revealing about the latter half of the american century as dos passos s trilogy was for the first but old rothie has seemed on auto pilot for a while he lives alone in a house in the woods and frequently contemplates suicide speaks of the death of the novel and its growing irrelevance then why write is it all he knows how to do whatever apologies for drawing too many parallels between author and character and the reductive and annoying pop psychologizing but it s kind of impossible to resist on this one the humbling isn t without merit or interest and had it been part of a collection of longish stories i think it would ve fared better but on its own the deficiencies and one notedness are too glaring reader beware The Humbling was given to me as a gift and I read it practically in one sitting I had read the very negative reviews and probably would have skipped it An article about sex in novels now vs then that I read included this book Supposedly, one woman was so disgusted by the graphic sex that she threw the book in the garbage Well, I wouldn t go that far, but point taken The problem with the sex scenes was, dare I say it, they seemed gratuitous.I love Philip Roth He may be my favorite author The Humbling was given to me as a gift and I read it practically in one sitting I had read the very negative reviews and probably would have skipped it An article about sex in novels now vs then that I read included this book Supposedly, one woman was so disgusted by the graphic sex that she threw the book in the garbage Well, I wouldn t go that far, but point taken The problem with the sex scenes was, dare I say it, they seemed gratuitous.I love Philip Roth He may be my favorite author or very near the top of my list At his best, he write excellent prose and is usually compelling This, alas, was nowhere near the caliber of what I expect from him And it isn t so much about the length of The Humbling I have read Everyman wonderful , Exit Ghost and Indignation, and they were all very short but memorable But this one was like a cliche with a hackneyed ending with none of the humor and insight that I love about Roth s writing He is in the last part of his life career now, and all of his books seem to reflect that But this one didn t make it 2.5 Really I didn t buy into the numerous veers that the plot takes, and felt that it would have functioned much better as a fully fledged novel than as a VERY brief novella btw, I hope I bought it remaindered 30 bucks for the hardcover s 125 beautifully laid out and therefore sparsely blackened pages We never get any kind of understanding of Pegeen, the female lead, for starters.Otherwise, Roth s command of voice is still unparalleled, such that you can t help get sucked into the male lea 2.5 Really I didn t buy into the numerous veers that the plot takes, and felt that it would have functioned much better as a fully fledged novel than as a VERY brief novella btw, I hope I bought it remaindered 30 bucks for the hardcover s 125 beautifully laid out and therefore sparsely blackened pages We never get any kind of understanding of Pegeen, the female lead, for starters.Otherwise, Roth s command of voice is still unparalleled, such that you can t help get sucked into the male lead s story, though there too it feels like a preliminary sketch to a painting, leaving me wanting mucha Prospero whose revels now are ending, a Macbeth whose way of life has fallen into the sere, the yellow leaf, is a great proposition, I just feel like the book neededpages to fulfill it.David Schaafsma s excellent review contradicts what I have just said above, so cast a cold eye on my quick reaction, horseman, pass by have loved the other late Roth novellas that I have read Just not this one or, not enough