The Anatomy Lesson [NOOK Book]

Overview


The writer Nathan Zukerman comes down with a mysterious physical affliction--pure pain, beginning in his neck and shoulders, invading his torso  and taking possession of his life.  Zukerman, whose work was his life, is unable to write a line.  Now his work is trekking from one doctor to the next--from orthopedist to osteopath to neurologist to psychiatrist--but none can find a cause for the pain and nobody can assuage it. So begins Philip Roth's strangely comic new novel, The Anatomy ...
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The Anatomy Lesson

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Overview


The writer Nathan Zukerman comes down with a mysterious physical affliction--pure pain, beginning in his neck and shoulders, invading his torso  and taking possession of his life.  Zukerman, whose work was his life, is unable to write a line.  Now his work is trekking from one doctor to the next--from orthopedist to osteopath to neurologist to psychiatrist--but none can find a cause for the pain and nobody can assuage it. So begins Philip Roth's strangely comic new novel, The Anatomy Lesson.  In it, we find Nathan Zukerman beset at age forty not only by his pain but by his past.  He seriously wonders if he ought to be a novelist at all.  At his wit's end, bewildered by both the obstinate pain and the isolating profession, and unconsolable by his "harem of Florence Nightingales"--Gloria, his accountant's wildly mothering wife; Jaga, the depressed Polish refuge from the hair-treatment clinic (to add to his suffering, Zukerman is going bald); Diana, the distressingly self-possessed Finch College heiress; and the temptingly levelheaded painter Jenny--Zukerman tries to pin his catastrophe on some source he can confront. There is no shortage of candidates.  Zukerman's brother blames his acerbic best-seller Carnovsky, for ruining the lives of their late parents, and will have nothing to do with him.  There's the critic Milton Appel, once Zuckerman's literary conscience, now his scourge--the Grand Inquisitor of Inquiry magazine, the New York Jewish cultural monthly.  Searching desperately for a diagnosis that will lead to a cure, Zuckerman asks himself if the pain can have been caused by his adversaries, or by his astonishingly intractable grief for his mother, or by the disgust he has come to feel for the literary vocation he once loved.  And while he is wondering, his dependence on painkillers grows into an addiction to Percodan, marijuana, and hundred-proof vodka. In the last half of The Anatomy Lesson, Zuckerman breaks out of invalid imprisonment in his Manhattan apartment and sets off on a journey to escape the pain, the adversaries, the grief, and the career--a journey into a new existence, a search for a "second life."  Persuaded that a doctor's life is everything a writer's is not, Zuckerman flies to Chicago with the intention of applying to medical school at his alma mater.  Though the pain he encounters there is worse even than what he's fled, the startling quest for the second life provides some of the funniest scenes in all of Roth's fiction. With the serious playfulness and extravagant insistence characteristic of his work, Roth, in his fourteenth published book, presents an astonishing antithesis to The Magic Mountain: The Anatomy Lesson is a great comedy of illness.  Roth's strength has always been the ability to depict the boisterous, the farcical, and the extreme in human behavior while revealing at the same time a world that immediately strikes the reader as real--what the English critic Hermione Lee has called, in writing of Roth's career, "a manner at once...brash and thoughtful...lyrical and wry, which projects through comic expostulations and confessions of the speakers a knowing, humane authority."  The Anatomy Lesson is one of Roth's finest achievements in this vein--a comic masterpiece and brilliant finale to the Zuckerman trilogy. The Anatomy Lesson was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Anatomy Lesson is a ferocious, heartfelt book...lavish with laughs and flamboyant inventions." —John Updike, The New Yorker

"Roth has a genius for the comedy of entrapment.... [He] writes America's most raucously funny novels." —Time

"One of Roth's most unsparing and revealing books...forceful and startling." —Newsday

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466846395
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 7/2/2013
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 462,755
  • File size: 526 KB

Meet the Author

Philip Roth

Philip Roth was born in New Jersey in 1933.  He studied literature at Bucknell University and the University of Chicago.  His first book, Goodbye, Columbus, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1960.  He has lived in Rome, London, Chicago, New York City, Princeton, and New England.  Since 1955, he has been on the faculties of the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he is now Adjunct Professor of English.  He is also General Editor of the Penguin Books series "Writers from the Other Europe."  Recently he has been spending half of each year in Europe, traveling and writing.

Biography

Philip Roth's long and celebrated career has been something of a thorn in the side of the writer. As it is for so many, fame has been the proverbial double-edged sword, bringing his trenchant tragic-comedies to a wide audience, but also making him a prisoner of expectations and perceptions. Still, since 1959, Roth has forged along, crafting gorgeous variations of the Great American Novel and producing, in addition, an autobiography (The Facts) and a non-fictional account of his father's death (Patrimony: A True Story).

Roth's novels have been oft characterized as "Jewish literature," a stifling distinction that irks Roth to no end. Having grown up in a Jewish household in a lower-middle-class sub-section of Newark, New Jersey, he is incessantly being asked where his seemingly autobiographical characters end and the author begins, another irritant for Roth. He approaches interviewers with an unsettling combination of stoicism, defensiveness, and black wit, qualities that are reflected in his work. For such a high-profile writer, Roth remains enigmatic, seeming to have laid his life out plainly in his writing, but refusing to specify who the real Philip Roth is.

Roth's debut Goodbye, Columbus instantly established him as a significant writer. This National Book Award winner was a curious compendium of a novella that explored class conflict and romantic relationships and five short stories. Here, fully formed in Roth's first outing, was his signature wit, his unflinching insightfulness, and his uncanny ability to satirize his character's situations while also presenting them with humanity. The only missing element of his early work was the outrageousness he would not begin to cultivate until his third full-length novel Portnoy's Complaint -- an unquestionably daring and funny post-sexual revolution comedy that tipped Roth over the line from critically acclaimed writer to literary celebrity.

Even as Roth's personal relationships and his relationship to writing were severely shaken following the success of Portnoy's Complaint, he continued publishing outrageous novels in the vein of his commercial breakthrough. There was Our Gang, a parodic attack on the Nixon administration, and The Breast, a truly bizarre take on Kafka's Metamorphosis, and My Life as a Man, the pivotal novel that introduced Roth's literary alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman.

Zuckerman would soon be the subject of his very own series, which followed the writer's journey from aspiring young artist with lofty goals to a bestselling author, constantly bombarded by idiotic questions, to a man whose most important relationships have all but crumbled in the wake of his success. The Zuckerman Trilogy (The Ghost Writer, Zuckerman Unbound, and The Counterlife) directly paralls Roth's career and unfolds with aching poignancy and unforgiving humor.

Zuckerman would later reemerge in another trilogy, although this time he would largely be relegated to the role of narrator. Roth's American Trilogy (I Married a Communist, the PEN/Faulkner Award winning The Human Stain, and The Plot Against America), shifts the focus to key moments in the history of late-20th –century American history.

In Everyman (2006) , Roth reaches further back into history. Taking its name from a line of 15th-century English allegorical plays, Everyman is classic Roth -- funny, tragic, and above all else, human. It is also yet another in a seemingly unbreakable line of critical favorites, praised by Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and The Library Journal.

In 2007's highly anticipated Exit Ghost, Roth returned Nathan Zuckerman to his native Manhattan for one final adventure, thus bringing to a rueful, satisfying conclusion one of the most acclaimed literary series of our day. While this may (or may not) be Zuckerman's swan song, it seems unlikely that we have seen the last Philip Roth. Long may he roar.

Good To Know

Before publishing his first novel, Roth wrote an episode of the suspenseful TV classic Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

A film adaptation of American Pastoral is currently in the works. Australian director Phillip Noyce (Rabbit Proof Fence; Patriot Games) is on board to direct.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Philip Milton Roth
    2. Hometown:
      Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 19, 1933
    2. Place of Birth:
      Newark, New Jersey
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Bucknell University, 1954; M.A. in English, University of Chicago, 1955

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2007

    I've read better.

    Philip Roth is a great writer. However, he just seems to ramble on and on in this novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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