Letting Goby Philip Roth
Letting Go is Roth's first full-length novel, published just after Goodbye, Columbus, when he was twenty-nine. Set in 1950s Chicago, New York, and Iowa city, Letting Go presents as brilliant a fictional portrait as we have of a mid-century America defined by social and ethical constraints and by moral compulsions conspicuously different from those of today.
Newly discharged from the Korean War army, reeling from his mother's recent death, freed from old attachments and hungrily seeking others, Gabe Wallach is drawn to Paul Herz, a fellow graduate student in literature, and to Libby, Paul's moody, intense wife. Gabe's desire to be connected to the ordered "world of feeling" that he finds in books is first tested vicariously by the anarchy of the Herzes' struggles with responsible adulthood and then by his own eager love affairs. Driven by the desire to live seriously and act generously, Gabe meets an impassable test in the person of Martha Reganhart, a spirited, outspoken, divorced mother of two, a formidable woman who, according to critic James Atlas, is masterfully portrayed with "depth and resonance."
The complex liason between Gabe and Martha and Gabe's moral enthusiasm for the trials of others are at the heart of this tragically comic work.
Author Biography: In the 1990s Philip Roth won America's four major literary awards in succession: the National Book Critics Circle Award for Patrimony (1991), the PEN/Faulkner Award for Operation Shylock (1993), the National Book Award for Sabbath's Theater (1995), and the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for American Pastoral (1997). He won the Ambassador Book Award of the English-Speaking Union for I Married a Communist (1998); in the same year he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House. Previously he won the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Counterlife (1986) and the National Book Award for his first book, Goodbye, Columbus (1959). In 2000 he published The Human Stain, concluding a trilogy that depicts the ideological ethos of postwar America. For The Human Stain Roth received his second PEN/Faulkner Award as well as Britain's W. H. Smith Award for the Best Book of the Year. In 2001 he received the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in fiction, given every six years "for the entire work of the recipient."
"A rich book, full of incident, wry and sad and even in its most desolating scene somehow amusing." —Elizabeth Hardwick, Harper's
"[Roth] has the finest eye for the details of American life since Sinclair Lewis." —Stanley Edgar Hyman
- Knopf Publishing Group
- Publication date:
Meet the Author
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.
- Date of Birth:
- March 19, 1933
- Place of Birth:
- Newark, New Jersey
- B.A. in English, Bucknell University, 1954; M.A. in English, University of Chicago, 1955
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While this might not be his best work, "Letting Go" is still an impressive novel about a forgotten time period and the disastrous choices we can make in our youth. Worth reading if you don't mind a 620 page novel.
Recently, i've been very into Philip Roth. I've read Portnoy's Complaint, Goodbye Columbus, and The Human Stain, and I loved all three of them. Letting Go, however, is not nearly up to par with Roth's other work, and while it did have enormous potential, I found many flaws in it. First of all, the novel should have been about 200 pages shorter. There was a lot of unnecessary dialogue, followed by unnecessary prose. Many of the scenes were repetitive to the point of being annoying. The book, mainly about how the conservative conformity of the 1950's was so against human nature, is one where you wait for something to happen, you yearn for that "AHA" moment, all to no avail. Nothing major ever happens, Roth, uncharacteristically, never shocks or surprises. The characters, for the most part, are miserable and unlikeable figures whom many will probably find unrelatable. If the book does have one thing going for it, however, it is how Roth's lyrical writing shines throughout the 620 page novel. Perhaps if it were shorter and more concise, Letting Go could have been one of Roth's better works.
This book is the best i have ever read