Completely obscene and uproariously funny.
There's not really much of a plot--just a man telling the story of his life in a monologue to his therapist. As a result, the narrative structure jumps around a lot, much the way the human mind works. One memory brings to mind another memory from years earlier or years later, and then you circle back once again to what you were talking about before.
'n. [after Alexander Portnoy (1933- )] A disorder in which strongly- felt ethical and altruistic impulses are perpetually warring with extreme sexual longings, often of a perverse nature.'
While reading this book, I wasn't really sure how to feel about it. Now that I have finished, I'm still unsure how to feel about it. The book is told from a very male and very Jewish point of view- neither of which with I can particularly connect. Assuming both perspectives are as authentic as everyone says (and as authentic as it feels, even to me- a female atheist), it's hard to view men as anything other than lecherous, selfish, sex- obsessed dicks and Jews as whiney, guilt- ridden elitists.
I can, however, relate to it's raw sense of humor and stream of consciousness style of writing. It is similar to Fight Club or American Psycho in that way (and equally similar in it's misogyny and depravity)- all of which are compliments to the book!
Philip Roth can do no wrong in my eyes. This is the story of a man torn between his life as a righteous Jew and his sex addiction, particularly for "shiksas". This is full of Jewish reference, and I'm not sure one would care for it if they did not understand what it is to be Jewish and raised on Jewish guilt. Nonetheless, a great book!
Very enlightening book!! I never read it as a young adult, and saw it listed on a "banned book" list, so decided I needed to see why. I also read a bio on the author, and looking at his picture, could not imagine he would write a "banned type" book. I really enjoyed it, and think every Mother should read it, Jewish or not. We can put such guilt trips on our children and not even know it.......