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I Married a Communist is the story of the rise and fall of Ira Ringold, a big American roughneck who begins life as a teenage ditch digger in 1930s Newark, becomes a big-time 1940s radio star, and is destroyed, both as a performer and a man, in the McCarthy witch-hunt of the 1950s. In his heyday as a star - and as a zealous, bullying supporter of 'progressive' political causes - Ira married Hollywood's beloved silent-film star, Eve Frame. Their glamorous honeymoon in her Manhattan townhouse is short-lived, however, and it is the publication of Eve's scandalous bestselling expose that identifies him as 'an American taking his orders from Moscow'. In this story of cruelty, betrayal, and revenge spilling over into the public arena from their origins in Ira's turbulent personal life, Philip Roth has written a brilliant fictional portrayal of that treacherous post-war epoch when anti-Communist fever not only infected national politics but traumatised the intimate, innermost lives of friends and families, husbands and wives, parents and children.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099287834
ISBN-10: 0099287838
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 21mm)
Pages: 352
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 1-Jul-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » The Newark news from New Jersey's finest writer. This is the story of a popular entertainer, Iron Rinn, a man who looks like Abe Lincoln and thinks like Leon Trotsky. He marries a beautiful film star and, this being Philip Roth, no man is going to get away with that; treachery and betrayal wait in the wings. The events take place during the dark years of McCarthyism, but the author makes it clear that denunciation and disgrace are the due of anyone who stands up and tries to make a difference. The gripes of Roth continue to fascinate. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Following the spectacular success of its immediate predecessor, American Pastoral (1997), Roth's ambitious new novel is another chronicle of innocence and idealism traduced - the demolition of what one of its characters calls "the myth of your own goodness." That character is Murray Ringold, a nonagenarian former schoolteacher whose meeting with his onetime student (and recurring Roth character), novelist Nathan Zuckermano, triggers a complex reconstruction of the infamous life of Murray's younger brother Ira. As "Iron Rinn," a "radio star. . . married to one of the country's most revered radio actresses," Ira had become a beloved public figure renowned for his impersonations of Abraham Lincoln (whom he physically resembled) and for patriotic broadcasts celebrating America's working poor. Nathan, who grew up in the 1940s as a fledgling liberal intellectual whose heroes were radio playwright Norman Corwin and left-wing novelist Howard Fast, adored the charismatic Ira, even after the latter's wife denounced him as a duplicitous "zealot" in her explosive memoir, I Married a Communist. The story of Ira's violent youth, spectacular career, and eventual disgrace is rather ham-fistedly assembled from Nathan's own memories (as Iron Rinn's devoted acolyte), the stories Ira told him, and - most movingly - the immensely detailed recollections poured forth by the ever-garrulous Murray Ringold (brilliantly portrayed as a bundle of fiery intellectual and moral energies undimmed by old age; a sturdy exemplar of "the disciplined sadness of stoicism"). The character of Murray is the triumph of this often inventive but gratingly discursive novel, whose dramatic content is frequently upstaged by such indulgences as Ira's lengthy political diatribes, Nathan's summaries of favorite literary works (such as Arthur Miller's Focus), and Murray's exhausting (if agreeably savage) remembrance of Richard Nixon's state funeral. Despite its superb re-creation of the conflicted 1940s and the ordeal of the American Left, along with a plethora of sharply realized ideologues at verbal war, this very talky book is an example of Roth at his most forceful and eloquent, though perhaps rather less than his best. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - 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, previously awarded to John Dos Passos, William Faulkner and Saul Bellow, among others. 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 prizes: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award 'for a body of work...of enduring originality and consummate craftmanship' and in 2007 the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for achievement in American Fiction, given to a writer whose 'scale of achievement over a sustained career...places him or her in the highest rank of American literature.' Roth is the only living American writer to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. The last of the eight volumes is scheduled for publication in 2013.

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