Tag Archives: Philip Roth

Indignation Book Review

Among the recommendations that are often quoted to writers, one of the most well-known is to write what you know.

Philip Roth was raised in Newark, New Jersey and famously used his fiction to write about his experience growing up in the years during and after World War II.

In his 2008 novel, Indignation, Marcus Messner is a young man who has been raised by his second generation Jewish parents in Newark in the early 1950’s. After completing his first year of college at a local university, Marcus is ready to spread his proverbial wings. But his father, who owns his own butcher shop is increasingly becoming a helicopter parent. To get away from his father, Marcus enrolls in¬†Winesburg College, a small university in Ohio. At school Marcus is slowly becoming a rebel. He is starts dating Olivia Hutton , a young woman who carries her own emotional baggage, in addition to not sharing Marcus’s religious faith.

Can Marcus find his own way in the world or will he follow the path that has been laid out before him?

This book is amazing. What makes it stand out for me is that his journey feels normal for a kid in their late teens or early 20’s. That period of life, as I remember it be, is a period of exploration and discovering your own identity as a human being.

I recommend it.

 

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Thoughts On The Passing Of Philip Roth

Every genre has their own icon. Philip Roth was one of the icons of modern fiction by Jewish authors or fiction about Jewish characters. He passed away yesterday at the age of 85.

My favorite Philip Roth novel is The Plot Against America.

In the novel, Roth re-wrote history. In 1940, FDR lost the presidential election to Charles Lindbergh. Soon after taking office, Lindbergh not only blamed the Jews for America’s ills, but also negotiated a sort of peace with Germany. The Jews in America, who thought they were safe from the racist, anti-Semitic world that their European brethren lived will soon discover that they will soon be no better off than the Jews of Europe.

We read and re-reading Philip Roth because, like all great writers, he has a way of speaking directly to his readers, regardless of their religious or cultural background.

As they say in our mutual religion, may his memory be a blessing. Not only to those who knew him on a personal level, but also to the millions who have read and loved his books over the years.

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Indignation Movie Review

College, from my experience, at least, is a transitional period in our lives. We are not children anymore, but we are not adults yet either. It is that strange place when we are starting to figure out who we are and what we want out of life.

The new film, Indignation, based on the 2008 book of the same name by respected writer Philip Roth, takes place in 1951.

Marcus Messner (Logan Lerman) is a young man of Jewish descent from Newark, New Jersey. He spends his days working with his father, Max (Danny Burstein) at the butcher shop that bears the family name. Life is about to change for Marcus. He is about to start college at Winesburg College in Winesburg, Ohio.

The first person in his immediate family to attend college, Marcus is looking forward to not just the educational opportunities, but also the distance between college and his father, who is becoming irrational about many things, his son included.

Marcus develops a crush and has a date with Olivia Hutton (Sarah Gadon), one of his classmates. Olivia may appear to be healthy and normal, but underneath, she is dealing with a host of complicated issues. Marcus continues to spend time with Olivia, despite the concerns of his classmates and even his own mother, Esther (Linda Emond).

Set in a time of repression and the expectation to fit in, this film is the story of a young man trying to find his own way. While certain sections of the narrative seemed a little slow, the ending was completely out of left field. I walked out of the movie theater with the thought that my mind was blown.

I recommend it.

Indignation is presently in theaters.

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Writing The Breakout Novel Book Review

Writing the great American novel is the dream of many writers.  There are many writers (myself included) who would give their right arm to become the next F. Scott Fitzgerald, Philip Roth or Sylvia Plath.

Writing is more than sitting in front of a computer with a blank word document open or having a pad and pen in hand. Good writing, especially the kind the keeps readers coming back again and again is a mix of talent, skill and sheer hard work.

Donald Maass’s 2002 book, “Writing The Breakout Novel” breaks down the writing process in a practical, easy to read format. Having published books and worked on other side of the desk as a literary agent, Mr. Maass understands the writing process and the qualities that make a book stand out among the untold number of competitors that are published yearly.

What I like about this book is that the information he provided was just not for new writers. The advice can also be applied to veteran writers who even though they have a few published novels under their belt, could use a little help for their next novel.

I recommend it.

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