The Library of America has finished up its monumental edition of the novels of Philip Roth with two volumes that include all of the books from 2001 until 2010. This includes the first rate “The Plot Against America,” which involves an alternate history of World War II in which Charles Lindbergh is elected president, as well as the (supposed) last couple of books that were mainly about death and dying and were therefore slightly repetitive — “Everyman,” “The Humbling,” and “Nemesis.”
If, as he has insisted, Roth is walking away from writing at the age of 80, there is no question that he has built one of the great bodies of work in modern letters. Even the failures — I’m not crazy about the Zuckerman novels, although I seem to be in the minority — abound with vivacity and an energetic questioning of the nature of man. Not what we like to think we are, but what we actually are: how we think, make decisions, make love — or, as Roth would surely prefer, have sex.
All this, and he’s also hilariously funny.
In the Pipeline …
Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico who has done deals with everybody from the Taliban to Castro, will publish a book entitled “How to Sweet Talk a Shark,” from Rodale. The book will recount stories behind Richardson’s negotiations, and how the lessons he learned can be applied to everyday life … The Pulitzer Prize winning biologist E.O. Wilson has sold a new book to Simon & Schuster. The book, as yet untitled, will tell the story of the creation of a new park in Mozambique that will “transform our thinking about biodiversity.”… Da Capo will publish “Grant and Lee,” a dual biography of the Civil War generals by William C. Davis. Surely this has been done before?
Mike Browning’s Word of the Week …
hobbledehoy: an awkward adolescent boy.
Quote Unquote …
‘To say that a man is vain means merely that is pleased with the effect he produces on other people. A conceited man is satisfied with the effect he produces on himself.’
— Max Beerbohm