Although I believed that even though you have understood something, you can never fully possess it unless you’re one of them. If you don’t have any idea what I’m blabbering about, let me just show you my review on one of Philip Roth’s masterpiece.
The book is about a one long rant of Alexander Portnoy from his analyst couch about the joys, anguishes and pains of his life, specially growing-up Jewish in America. He retells his life from his childhood dilemmas up to his manhood together with his over bearing parents that somehow cause him to be inferior (although he’s got straight A’s), his Oedipal -caused by his overreacting mother whom also makes the novel over-acting- and sexual impulses. I have never read anything exceptional about sexual compulsions that I guess makes this book original. I’m sure that the 21st century reader wouldn’t be shocked as much compared to the time the book was published (1969) which caused a sensation and is considered to be scandalous. Even though time blurs it capability to shock, it still cause one to feel ashamed. What makes this book memorable is that although Alexander tries to defile and criticize everything that comes his way; it just portrays the difficulties and relations of every men to women –and vise-versa- (which is portrayed in every way what he calls the ‘shikses’) and the syndrome male species usually encounters in life.
The book I guess is about repressed ideas, and sure is, repressed satisfaction on sexual activity. It tells of being trapped in a world you cannot fully expressed and fulfill the bizarre and outrageous fantasies you have (we all have it haven’t we?). It also raises some serious questions on what it means to be a human being.
We encounter Portnoy in his most energetic criticisms; but we also get to feel his desperations and longings, specially his insights on his condition. I really got a couple of laughs in here, and there are humorous passages which failed to make me smile not that I don’t understand the joke but just didn’t find it laughable (that is what I’m telling you from the start, of course, to each is own).
I wouldn’t even wonder why this one is included on the 1001 list, for its originality and message is exceptionally. For Mr. Roth to think of this masterpiece at that time is considerably brilliant. Before American Pie’s infamous masturbation scene, there was Portnoy’s Complaint and I guess they should thank Portnoy for coming up with his Apple, Liver or Bottle of can escapade to come out with the idea. Though this is not certainly for the faint-hearted, I recommend this to everyone.
Portnoy’s Complaint was adapted to film and is released in 1972.
Opening Sentence: She was so deeply imbedded in my consciousness that for the first year of school I seem to have belied that each of my teachers was my mother in disguise.
Ending Sentence: So [said the doctor]. Now vee may perhaps to begin. Yes?