The Facts: A Novelist's Autobiography

The Facts: A Novelist's Autobiography

by Philip Roth
     
 

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A rigorously unfictionalized narrative that portrays Roth unadorned -- as young artist, as student , as son, as lover, as husband, as American, as Jew -- and candidly examines how close the novels have been to, and how far from, autobiography.

Overview

A rigorously unfictionalized narrative that portrays Roth unadorned -- as young artist, as student , as son, as lover, as husband, as American, as Jew -- and candidly examines how close the novels have been to, and how far from, autobiography.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
By offering his memoirs plus a critique of same penned by his alter ego Nathan Zuckerman, Roth here undermines the autobiographical genre as he derailed fictional conventions in The Counterlife. Roth lays bare his private life or obscures the really juicy parts because, as Zuckerman says, autobiography may indeed be "the most manipulative of all literary forms." He also manages to beat those nasty book reviewers to the punch, because Zuckerman is the first to recognize that "this isn't you at your most interesting." Bathed here in a quasi-nostalgic glow, the writer's youth and college years are pretty tame; Roth is smart, loquacious but quite the good Jewish boy. The book becomes much more energetic and absorbing when Roth describes his self-destructive relationship with "Josie," a woman who bought a urine specimen from a pregnant black stranger in a park in order to bully Roth into marrying her (which he does after insisting on an abortion), and whom Roth calls "the greatest creative-writing teacher of them all, specialist par excellence in the aesthetics of extremist fiction." Another unlikely font for his imagination was the Jewish community; the uproar over Goodbye, Columbus helped to fuel Portnoy's Complaint and the Zuckerman series. Despite their weaknesses, these reflections would stand even on their own as perspicacious insights by a past master of fiction on a writer's beginnings, quest for freedom and creative muses. With the Zuckerman add-on, the book becomes a unique demonstration of the superiority of fiction over autobiography as an uninhibited, introspective, self-confrontive form. Portions of the book previously appeared in the Atlantic, New York Times Book Review, and Vanity Fair. BOMC and QPBC selections. (September)
Library Journal
There is no doubt that Roth has secured a place for himself in American literary history, and this book will do nothing to jeopardize that place. Roth provides an anecdotal journey through five stages of his life: his New Jersey youth; his college days at Bucknell; meeting his wife-to-be while an instructor at the University of Chicago; his early writing days, including the uproar he caused in the Jewish community; and his life in the Sixties. Roth may have written "the facts," but they are not the complete facts. The work is episodic, sketchy, and sometimes self-indulgent (as such books as this can be), but an offering from one like Roth belongs in libraries. John Budd, Graduate Lib. Sch., Univ. of Arizona, Tucson
Phyllis Rose
A fine account of the origins of Roth's fiction—Philip Roth continues to be the most vigorous and truthful of American writers.
Newsday
Publishers Weekly
Mel Foster turns in a flat and somewhat uninspired performance in this reading of Roth's autobiography, The Facts. Focusing on five episodes in his life, from his childhood in the 1930s to the publication of Portnoy's Complaint in the 1960s, Roth provides the listener with both details of his life and a criticism of those memoirs courtesy of his fictional alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman. Unfortunately, what could have been a fascinating audio exploration into the life of one of the most important authors of his generation is hampered by plodding narration with little intonation and less momentum. When Mel Foster is given the opportunity to lend a voice to one of the characters, his efforts are successful, accurate, and a thoroughly enjoyable. Sadly, these occasions are few and far between. A Vintage paperback. (May)
From the Publisher
"The Facts is a lively and serious version of a novelist's life." —Thomas R. Edwards, New York Review of Books

"A fine account of the origins of Roth's fiction—Philip Roth continues to be the most vigorous and truthful of American writers." —Phyllis Rose, Newsday

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466846425
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
07/02/2013
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
208
File size:
363 KB

Meet the Author

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 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.


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.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Connecticut
Date of Birth:
March 19, 1933
Place of Birth:
Newark, New Jersey
Education:
B.A. in English, Bucknell University, 1954; M.A. in English, University of Chicago, 1955

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