Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories

( 23 )

Overview

Roth's award-winning first book instantly established its author's reputation as a writer of explosive wit, merciless insight, and a fierce compassion for even the most self-deluding of his characters.

Goodbye, Columbus is the story of Neil Klugman and pretty, spirited Brenda Patimkin, he of poor Newark, she of suburban Short Hills, who meet one summer break and dive into an affair that is as much about social class and suspicion as it is about love. The novella is accompanied ...

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Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories

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Overview

Roth's award-winning first book instantly established its author's reputation as a writer of explosive wit, merciless insight, and a fierce compassion for even the most self-deluding of his characters.

Goodbye, Columbus is the story of Neil Klugman and pretty, spirited Brenda Patimkin, he of poor Newark, she of suburban Short Hills, who meet one summer break and dive into an affair that is as much about social class and suspicion as it is about love. The novella is accompanied by five short stories that range in tone from the iconoclastic to the astonishingly tender and that illuminate the subterranean conflicts between parents and children and friends and neighbors in the American Jewish diaspora.

Winner of the 1960 National Book Award

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A masterpiece." —Newsweek

"Unlike those of us who come howling into the world, blind and bare, Mr. Roth appears with nails, hair, teeth, speaking coherently. He is skilled, witty, energetic and performs like a virtuoso." —Saul Bellow

"Superior, startling, incandescently alive." —The New Yorker

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1974's My Life as A Man Roth examines how a writer revises his reality, compiling two stories ``by'' one Peter Tarnopol and a third in which Tarnopol is the fictional protagonist. Vintage will simultaneously reissue Goodbye, Columbus , Roth's National Book Award-winning first novel, together in a new edition with five short stories. (Sept.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Following the recent release of Roth's vitriolic novel, I Married a Communist (also produced unabridged from Dove, with Ron Silver reading), it's refreshing to hear his most playful early material revisited. The title novel and accompanying stories are read by a list of top-notch performers. The title story, the coming-of-age tale of Newark's Neil Klugman, is read by John Rubinstein. Set in 1950s America, the idealistic college dropout Klugman spends a summer wooing Brenda Patimkin, an affluent Radcliffe girl from the nearby suburb of Short Hills. Their gentle courtship is disrupted by issues of class, religion and sex. The other stories, which include "The Conversion of the Jews" and "You Can't Tell a Man by the Song He Sings," are read by Rubinstein, Jerry Zaks, Harlan Ellison, Elliott Gould and Theodore Bikel. All do a good job of conveying Roth's sardonic humor, which--even in this younger work--has a world-weary, sorrowful weightiness. But the true gift demonstrated here is Roth's amazing deadpan wit, a quality exploited to dramatic ends when read aloud by the adroit veterans employed. (Feb.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This release by the 1960 National Book Award winner will acquaint listeners with the world of American Jews in the 1950s and to Roths wit and insight into the problems accompanying assimilation. A widely respected American writer, Roth is the author of 22 books, including American Pastoral (Audio Reviews, LJ 10/1/97) and I Married a Communist (Houghton, 1998). Goodbye, Columbus features Neil Klugman, a young man from Newark living with his aunt, and Brenda Patimkin, an archetypal Jewish American Princess, whose summer romance illustrates the tension between old world values and the new suburb-based culture. Provocative and entertaining, the other stories tell of likable characters, mostly men, who embrace their Jewishness yet must face conflicts in family and community. Although written nearly 40 years ago, these stories illustrate truths about America and its relationship with Jews that remain relevant today. The readers, who include actors Theodore Bikel and Elliott Gould, are all excellent, capturing the particular characteristics of Jewish American speech. Highly recommended for all libraries.Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679748267
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/21/1993
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 98,784
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.97 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Roth

In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and in 2002 the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction. He has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. In 2005 The Plot Against America received the Society of American Historians’ Prize for “the outstanding historical novel on an American theme for 2003-2004.” Recently Roth received PEN’s two most prestigious awards: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award and in 2007 the PEN/Bellow Award for achievement in American fiction. Roth is the only living American novelist to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. In 2011 he received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, and was later named the fourth recipient of the Man Booker International Prize.

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

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

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(13)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 17, 2011

    Typos

    Fix many typos that detract from Roth's brilliance!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2004

    The brilliant debut of a major American writer

    This is Roth's first book, a collection of stories including the novella which gives its title to the collection. Along with the sharp social observation, and quick ironic intelligence there is a real feeling for the American Jewish world and characters . Here already too is his famous moralizing and implicit criticism of the world and people he writes about . A large imagination and a brilliant feel for language are already present in this enjoyable and readable debut work.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2003

    evocative writing

    So much beneath the surface here! Vivid story-telling, there is much to make one smile wistfully or laugh outloud! Irony and humor abound. Recommended by a friend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2014

    This is a good book

    Good to read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2012

    Great Writing. Horrible Editing/Production

    The writing is great. Obviously Roth is an excellent author, and other, more qualified people have reviewed his work so I'll forgo that, and instead address the actual production of this book.

    The publisher should be ashamed, and the editor fired. This version of the boom is rife with misspellings, errant capitalizations, and incorrect grammar. So much so that it's a slap in the face to Roth.

    It pains me to pay the $10 bucks, or whatever it was I paid, and have to deal with the fact that the publisher seems to have hired an editor who has not yet completed elementary school.

    In short, the book is worth reading, but maybe get the print edition as I imagine slightly more attention was paid to it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 28, 2012

    Even Better than I Remember from Years Ago

    This book was required reading in high school. I remember thinking, "OK, but so what? Why did they make us read this?" While I still don't have much of an answer, I did like the book even more the second time around.

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  • Posted February 20, 2011

    very good

    Roth is a great stylist and his stories are quite good... and the characters in "GB Columbus" are ver interesting.

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  • Posted October 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I<3Goodbye Columbus

    I love this collection of short stories.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2008

    upset

    it was a ok written book. the story was very dissapointing. i would tell people to read it but i will never read it again.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2002

    It is sad

    Goodbye Columbus is a book that shows reality about love. I really recommend it to everyone, specially the teenagers who want to learn a tough lesson about life. I think the deal with Neil and Brenda is that they were in love at some point of their lives but still their relationship was not so strong to handle a long distance relation, neither a problem with parents. Both were still immature, especially Brenda who could not take her own decisions because, as a little child, she was influenced by her parents, no matter what she felt. On the other side, Neil ran out of love so, at the end, he was not interested on fighting for their love. I believe that the idea of the story is sad but is still has some humorous parts that will make you enjoy the book at the same time it teaches you a lesson.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2002

    Apage in everybody's book of life.

    It¿s a literary masterpiece, realistic as it can be, Goodbye Columbus makes you feel as if you were 19 again. Neil¿s way of looking at life makes him a very interesting protagonist. Roth really scored a hundred whit this book, he makes the reader relates to the selfish feeling of a typical collage student, like Brenda. It makes you laugh going into two different mentalities such as Neil¿s and Brenda¿s. Intriguing enough not to let the reader know every detail, but to give him the opportunity of drawing your own conclusion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2002

    A Story That Can Remind You of any old summer love.

    Indeed a book worth reading. Neil and Brenda `s love affair is a clear example of materialism in love affairs. They also show a great amount of common sense as developed by Roth, which is very representative of his own life. Although brief, the characters are well developed, their attitudes are representative of the temporal setting (around the 60¿s), which sets the mood effectively. At first, we thought that the story was a bit slow, but near the end, the finale is magnificently narrated, showing the characters more humane than in any other part of the novel. We would recommend this story because you might feel connected to any of the main characters. Finally, don¿t forget to take a look at the title¿s symbolism; this can be a key factor in determining the true meaning of the novel (Tahiti-Gaugin-The Patimikin¿s fridge filled with exotic fruit-Christopher Columbus?-New World?-Neil¿s New World?).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2002

    A Page in everybody's book of life

    It¿s a literary masterpiece, realistic as it can be, Goodbye Columbus makes you feel as if you were 19 again. Neil¿s way of looking at life makes him a very interesting protagonist. For example the way he relates to the little black kid of the library. Roth really scored a hundred with this book, he makes the reader relates to the selfish feeling of a typical College student, like Brenda. It makes you laugh going into two different mentalities such as Neil¿s and Brenda¿s. What makes it the best is that at the end the reader can make his own conclusions about what happened in the story and why it is name like that.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2002

    Great Book, Great themes

    Goodbye Columbus is a good book about love, the lack of love and the gaps between society. It talks about the relationship between a middle class Jew and an upper class Jew. Phillip Roth exposes the differences between classes and uses the characters to show in a great manner the way of living and thinking of each part of the society. It also shows the lack of commitment that some teenagers may have and the problems that this may cause. Not to spoil the whole book for the readers the last thing that should be said is that the book is entertaining, even though some of the characters are not likeable; especially Neil. Everyone should read this book if they want to pass a good time and if they want to know about social conflicts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2001

    Good enough

    I think this is a good book even though I enjoy reading other kinds of books (like science fiction.) However, what I found special about this one is that it is very realistic. The characters and the situations in the novel makes you feel this happened in real life. The book is about the summer romance between two teenagers: Brenda Patimkin (one rich girl) and Neil Klugman (a poor boy). Neil sees her for the first time swiming in a pool, and falls in love with her. After that, they begin to love each other romantically; but after awhile they start having problems with each other, which will make you wonder if they'll stay together as a couple (but that's for you to read.) I'd say it is an entertaining book; it has funny parts, sad parts, happy and romantic. I haven't read other Roth novels, but this one is well written. If you enjoy realistic novels, then it's a good choice.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2010

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