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Patrimony, a true story, touches the emotions as strongly a anything Philip Roth has ever written. Philip Roth watches as his eighty-six-year-old father - famous for his vigour, his charm, and his repertoire of Newark recollection - battles with the brain tumour that will kill him. The son, full of love, anxiety and dread, accompanies his father through each fearful stage of his final ordeal, and, as he does so, discloses the survivalist tenacity that has distinguished his father's long, stubborn engagement with life.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099914303
ISBN-10: 0099914301
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 128mm x 14mm)
Pages: 176
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 16-Apr-1992
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


UK Kirkus Review » This book is subtitled 'A True Story', which on the surface raises immediate questions about the nature of Philip Roth's work, given the autobiographical nature of his fiction and the invasion of his memoirs by his fictional alter ego. But perhaps it is best to take the statement at face value, for this is one of the most remarkable accounts ever written by a son about his father. Herman Roth in his mid-80s suffered from a brain tumour and in his struggle against death emerges as a heroic, often impossible figure. But in the forefront of everything is the deep and intelligent affection of a son for his father. Roth is much too subtle a writer to allow this to be just a work of homage, for it also reveals a whole world of Jewish life, humour and survival which goes some way to explaining Roth's own fiction. The result is immensely moving and often very funny. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » Roth has used the relationship between his life and art in a gimmicky way in his fiction, and even his brutal memoir The Facts (1988) was not free of this defect. Now, however, he discards all the artifices in this searing account of his 86-year-old father's physical decline and death. "You must not forget anything," Roth admonishes himself at the end of this father-and-son tale, and indeed, from the detail accumulated here, one doubts that his eye, unerring ear, and memory have missed a thing. Misdiagnosed at first as having a viral infection that caused temporary paralysis to one side of the face, father Herman Roth soon learned the bleaker truth: he had a brain tumor. As this once-vigorous retired Newark insurance manager refused to go gentle into that good night, Philip watched with mingled awe and fear. The only respites from this harrowing procession of bodily disasters - including diminished eyesight and incontinence - are flashbacks that provide fascinating glimpses into American Jewish life in the first half of this century - as well as into Roth pere, a blunt perfectionist who sometimes drove his late wife, children, and loved ones to distraction (after being advised of the need for an operation, Herman lashes out at his long-suffering companion for not opening a can of soup correctly). Even before Philip has his own terrifying brush with death in an emergency quintuple bypass operation, he realizes that his father taught and embodied "the vernacular, unpoetic and unexpressive and point-blank, with all the vernacular's glaring limitations and all its durable force." An elegy of overwhelming horror and pity - filled with Roth's graceful prose and narrative control, but also with a humanity sometimes missing in his other work. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Philip Roth

Philip Roth has won America's four major literary awards with his last four books, all published in the 1990s. Patrimony won the 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award, Operation Shylock the 19993 PEN/Faulkner Award, and Sabbath's Theatre the 1995 National Book Award. American Pastoral received the 198 Pulitzer Prize in fiction. His most recent novel, I Married a Communist, is his twenty-third book. Philip Roth was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1933. He was educated at Bucknell University and the University of Chicago. Since 1972 he has lived in Connecticut.

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