2011: 12. Portnoy's Complaint

“She was so deeply embedded in my conscious that for the first year of school I seem to have believed that each of my teachers was my mother in disguise.”

Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth

          So here’s the deal.  I have a love-hate relationship with Philip Roth, but I have decided that I just hate Portnoy’s Complaint.  Or, rather, I just don’t get what the fuss is about - except for the historical importance of a book like that becoming a best-seller.  This is the third* time I’ve read Portnoy’s Complaint, so I think I can fairly say that I’ve given Alexander Portnoy, his obsession with sex, his blaming his mother, his self-loathing Jew schtick a fair chance (query - true or false - Portnoy is so ridiculous as to almost be anti-Semetic?).  But I just don’t find it funny - maybe it’s no longer shocking, maybe it’s the misogyny thing (you know it’s bad when you keep thinking, Jesus, Alex, give Sophie a break - she’s your mother and she was trying her best!), maybe it’s my buddy’s theory that there are boy books and girl books (and this is totes a boy book).  But I just do not get the fuss about Portnoy’s Complaint - or rather, I don’t find it funny.  Sorry, Roth.**


Categories:  Fiction, Modern Library Top 100, Re-Read


*Once in high school, one re-read as an adult, and then this time

**Cause, you know, Philip Roth is crying all the way to the bank/Nobel Committee/what have you with the thought that one reader doesn’t like his critically acclaimed modern classic.  

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017