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It s recently been brought to my attention that my book reviews frequently are not actually about the book And I m wondering why would you want to know about the book when all you have to do is click on the little blurb about the book and then get on with the fascinating reading aboutoh, say where I bought my milk last Tuesday or my fondest most traumatic childhood memory, etc, etc.And, yet I aim to please so here is my sincere attempt to tell you something about this book It the book goes something like this sexsexsexsexguiltguiltguiltguiltsexsexsexguiltguiltmoms faultguiltmoms faultmoms faultguilt sexsexguiltkinda dads fault toomostly moms faultguiltsexsexsexself loathingJewish loathingprotestant loathingprotestant awe jewish loathingagain with the Protestant loathingsexsexguilt guiltguiltguiltpartial reconciliation with perceptions of all things Jewishattempt at sexfailure at sexguiltguiltguiltmom s faultNow that I ve, no doubt drawn you into the plot line and compelled you to pick up the book for yourself, let me share with you some of my personal thoughts on the book.Growing up conservative fundamentalist Christian, I am no stranger to guilt As a matter of fact some times I feel that Catholics and Jewish people think they have the market cornered on guilt, well, you know what taint so I got some pretty messed up voices going on in my head too, ya know And maybe I can t articulate my guilt trips into clever phrases or pinpoint experiences but I can tell you that guilt taught me a thing or two.1 If I don t pick up that clutter someone else is going to have to When I was younger this meant my mom, whom after setting aside her career as an artist to raise 5 kids and nearly had maybe did have at one point a nervous breakdown from the lack of money, the accumulation of clutter and my argumentative nature In my adult life this means the custodian, whom after leaving Vietnam as an educated person has to toil with 2 and sometimes 3 jobs to send his son and seemingly only hope at respectability in this career driven society of ours to college.2 Flour is not cheap and ingredients are not to be wasted oh, the shame, the shame of ruining yet ANOTHER batch of gingerbread men.3 pre marital sex is BAD BAD BAD BAD Offering yourself as anything less than a virgin to your someday husband is tantamount to giving someone a big bag of steaming compost with worms crawling through it for their birthday The only thing worse than pre marital sex is being gay it might be worth noting here that there was some guilt reprieve and gargantuan amounts of titillating conversation regarding what exactly you COULD do, short of having sex but even that was fraught with the anxiety of accidentally having sex and I m still a little hazy on whether or not I can participate in oral sex I m assuming it s a no go, while okay Catholics and Jewish people, I have to admit I ve got it easier here masturbating is okay AS LONG AS one doesn t start fantasizing about others while masturbating Which you gotta hand it to them wa ha ha is that not the purest form of masturbation 4 Paper is meant to be used and re used and re used and re used and re used Buying new paper is an intolerable opulence reserved for gluttonous pigs and ONLY gluttonous pigs etc, etc, etc, so, did I find Portnoy s excessive guilt to be unreasonable or unreadable, not at all I found it to be hilarious in it s familiarity Matter of fact I found most of the book to be hilarious, which I hadn t anticipated Some passages that I found particularly amusing are as follows when he ate pudding he shouldn t have, Well, good Christ, how was I supposed to know all that, Hanna Who looks into the fine points when he s hungry I m eight years old and chocolate pudding happens to get me hot Talking to his doctor , All I do is complain, the repugnance seems, bottomless, and I m beginning to wonder if maybe enough isn t enough I hear myself indulging in the kind of ritualized bellyaching that is just what gives psychoanalytic patients such a bad name with the general public a child hood sexual fantasy, Her favorite line of prose is a masterpiece, Fuck my pussy, Fuckface, till I faint when I fart in the bathtub, she kneels naked on the tile floor, leans all the way over, and kisses the bubbles While observing goys at the skating rink, Jesus, look how guiltlessly they eat between meals what girls about a non Jewish girlfriend,..played polo yes, a games form on top of a horse But humor aside, I also appreciated some other aspects of the story I loved the line, What I m saying, Doctor, is that I don t seem to stick my dick up these girls, as much as I stick it up their backgrounds as though through fucking I will discover America I remember standing alone in NYC coming from a small town in Oregon at age 17 and seeing the enormous variety of people and thinking how great it would be to be with the deaf man, the black man, the man in a wheel chair, the businessman, etc,etc,etc Thinking how much I would KNOW if I could be with all of them not simultaneously gross and not to worry, mom should you come across this I wasn t thinking sleep with them, just dates ya know, just some museums trips and a dinner here or there okay maybe some light petting too, but really that s as far as that fantasy went In the end I didn t broaden my horizons that way, I ended up dating one guy One very nice Jewish boy But still, I like the idea.And finally I d like to say that I think I damn near cried at one point near the end and yes, I did also nearly cry this week when I saw a mud flap of that silhouetted naked lady because I so hate the ideal that society feels so comfortable imposing on us less than perfect females, and I was a little chocked up when my son said, I like having you for a mom , and all of this near teary ness might indicate a certain hormonal fluctuation orrrrrrrrr it might indicate that I m a sensitive genius consider Regardless, I felt sorry for the pathetic schlep at one point.And thus concludes my thorough look at Portnoy s complaints plot points as well as the ubiquitous ME, ME, ME portion of my review. Portnoy s Complaint was my first husband s favorite book, and he used to quote from it all the time When we got divorced it wasn t amicable , my lawyer asked how I d feel about using that fact in court I was strongly tempted but told him after careful consideration that it was below the belt.As it turned out, my instincts were sound The judge knew Philip Roth personally, and it would have been a disaster I only discovered this several years later and was amazed at what a close call I d had. The case of an American Jew torn between the perfection imposed by parents and personal freedom, touches the universal Alexander at least for me is not the prototype of the living Jew in the United States, suffocated by a severely exemplary education, where the parents choose the route to follow for their son, the latter who finds this life bland and demanding, who throws herself into the most insatiable sexuality from his childhood , he is a universal being who exists everywhere in the world he can be Christian, Jewish, Muslim etc, he has doubts about the belief, and the importance of this propriety and these morals, he no longer believes in the foundation of the family or marriage.And so Alexander s monologue in front of his psychiatrist the reader rather continues with a lot of humor and g roth esque Childhood stories a big masturbator and sex stories with the Monkey in particular Alexander hesitates to choose between life according to the expectations of his family or the free life that escapes him in the impossibility of making a choice So he has no life, he has an image, a very pale copy of a life In addition he develops a very pessimistic vision of marriage, a tragicomic vision Alexander touches us, captivates us with his vision of things, he does not deny his belonging or hates his parents, but he opposes certain uses or beliefs.Roth was able to present to us the soul of an American Jew without clich s, with an excellent mastery of the character of his character, and with a humor I would not say to the Woody Allen full of irony original. What a dirty little book Kudos to Mr Roth for writing something this scandalous half a century ago. This is the book that made Philip Roth both famous and scandalous Portnoy is a mother obsessed sexual maniac and actually quite hilarious Who else would have had his character masturbating with a cow liver other than the author of the equally darkly humorous Sabbath s Theater This book and the reaction to it drives the Nathan Zuckerman series of books which all refer back to the public reaction with equal measures of awe and dismay The book itself is a classic and extremely well written as only Roth can write.If I were to compare Roth to another onanist obsesses writer, I d probably choose France s Houllebecq who can barely string two paragraphs together before whipping it out However, Roth is truly able to get inside his characters and make them real, living breathing beings I found that Houllebecq s characters lacked any depth or even human understanding They are just masturbatory cogs in a wheel The wheel itself is well described, but it is all so nihilistic and fatalist which is one reason why he is a darling to the extreme right who deplore decadence and think that God or their conceptions of right wrong should be imposed because given freewill, humans will always be depraved Roth s view is less cynical There is evil in the world, but it comes from conscious choices, and not just from the world s inherent immorality or some antiquated idea of fate.RIP 1933 2018 One of America s literary giants has left us. Enough being a nice Jewish boy Let s put the id back in yid Alex PortnoyPortnoy s Complaint A disorder in which strongly felt ethical and altruistic impulses are perpetually warring with extreme sexual longings, often of a perverse nature I have had a couple intense years of reading Roth, rereading some, but mostly reading much I had not read Recently Roth died, RIP, and then I read his last four short books, and decided to come full circle back to my I think it was first and possibly the most read of his books, Portnoy s Complaint, which reads almost as if it were a joyous comic farce As with many other of his books, it begins with a male boy character, Alex, who struggles mightily with his Jewish Newark working class identity, and since he is a teenager, specifically with his parents Roth, as with most of his other books, does not hide his character s sexual life instead he celebrates and then analyzes, and sometimes problematizes it in all its Rabelaisian glory Portnoy s Complaint is sort of known as the Great American Novel of Teenaged Masturbation In this book, Alex Portnoy is not at 14 having sex, but he calls himself the Raskolnikov of jerking off, and this is how the book comically opens, focusing on this There is, later, a lot of sex in the book, usually related humorously and for the time, but probably still now, for many, shockingly explicit and what people used to call foul mouthed, but it is clear his serious subject is what it means to be Jewish in America while making fun of himself he also satirizes his fellow Jews, sometimes brutally The sex obsessed Portnoy is in this tale confessing to his analyst he is trying to figure out how to be Jewish or not in America, exploring these issues through the various women Jews, gentiles he is with The joy of sex, the joys and madness of Jewish life, and atheism, all three topics are persistent themes in Roth across most of his work, and are here from the very first.It is 1969, and Portnoy s Complaint emerges after 2 3 fairly tame books from Roth in comparison, on the explicitness scale that build his literary reputation, and then this famously dirty book explodes pun intended, sorry on to the literary scene getting him denounced by Jewish leaders and community, becomeing an instant bestseller and critical smash The world, or at least America, is going through a sexual revolution Freedom, man, stop getting hung up on all this religious repression and just Let Go Love the one you re with Alex was a top student, and is, at the time is telling the tale to his therapist, 33, a good liberal, working for Mayor John Lindsay, but is still lost, personally He struggles, especially in his relationships with women How can such a once good Jewish boy like him get so screwed up Maybe it s the endless screwing The book tacks back and forth between Alex the masturbator at 14 and Alex the sadly, madly lost sexual libertine at 33, a case of arrested development, one of many many Roth books that would seem to take a look at sex and mortality and cultural identity To be sexual is for Roth or is it just many of his main male characters to be fully alive while to have that denied is a form of living death And yet it sometimes seems to be killing him, even as he obsesses about what it means to be Jewish, and an atheist, in America.The book begins with a funny look at Alex s upbringing by a set of neurotic Jewish parents domineering mother Sophie, nebbish father where the only thing he seems to have control over is his penis Fast forward to age 33 where he is alone, childless, serial dating various goyish blond women He seems to want to rid himself of his Jewish identity But then, in Davenport, Iowa, he discovers his discomfort with Midwestern Christian America, too, as he visits his girlfriend s family over the holidays He doesn t want that life, either Later in the book he pursues an Israeli Jew will it be better in Israel, with a real Jew Nope It s like a dialectical narrative, going back in forth between being anguished over his cultural background, not wanting to be a traditional Jew, and not wanting to be mistreated as a Jew But remember, this is like Salinger s Catcher a therapy session, so we are not supposed to see this solely as an affirmation of Alex Alex is sex crazy, at 33, and all around pretty crazy Portnoy s Complaint I thought was still very funny, in my second reading of it decades later, though it may have been knocked down a peg from my list of Roth s absolute greats such as the American trilogy though still I would say it is in the top seven or eight , but it is a manic, often hilarious, sometimes tiring series of rants interspersed with comic Yiddishisms , a monologue, a confession from a seemingly arrogant, sometimes clearly self deprecating, lost soul, creating one of the great literary characters of the twentieth century, still a source of shock and outrage and humor still a dirty book and very much a literary accomplishment. |Ebook ⚓ Portnoy's Complaint ☪ The Famous Confession Of Alexander Portnoy, Who Is Thrust Through Life By His Unappeasable Sexuality, Yet Held Back At The Same Time By The Iron Grip Of His Unforgettable Childhood Hilariously Funny, Boldly Intimate, Startlingly Candid, Portnoy S Complaint Was An Immediate Bestseller Upon Its Publication In , And Is Perhaps Roth S Best Known Book Portnoy S Complaint N After Alexander Portnoy A Disorder In Which Strongly Felt Ethical And Altruistic Impulses Are Perpetually Warring With Extreme Sexual Longings, Often Of A Perverse Nature Spielvogel Says Acts Of Exhibitionism, Voyeurism, Fetishism, Auto Eroticism And Oral Coitus Are Plentiful As A Consequence Of The Patient S Morality, However, Neither Fantasy Nor Act Issues In Genuine Sexual Gratification, But Rather In Overriding Feelings Of Shame And The Dread Of Retribution, Particularly In The Form Of Castration Spielvogel, O The Puzzled Penis , Internationale Zeitschrift Fur Psychoanalyse, Vol XXIV, P It Is Believed By Spielvogel That Many Of The Symptoms Can Be Traced To The Bonds Obtaining In The Mother Child Relationship One can believe why the novel was shocking, scandalous even at time of release It s both outrageous and amusing, and quite irreverent when it comes to the widely accepted values I laughed a lot here, but to tell the truth I was slightly bored at times as well I ve never been to psychoanalytic yet, and I very much hope life would spare me that dubious pleasure in the future too, but the novel reads like you re furtively eavesdropping confessions of an anguished neuritic, in Woody Allen style, patient to his doctor Nothing funny to have to confess your personal life to strangers, you could say It s true obviously, but the way Roth made his protagonist to do that is hilarious, well, mostly It s a satire of course On religion, sex, tradition, Jews, parents, upbringing, what that means to be Jew in modern society and how being Jew affects the whole life of our protagonist Roth is scathing, hard edged and doesn t give a damn about political correctness, mannerliness and all that jazz called Jewishness, but by Lord how many times one can read about masturbating Alex Portnoy, and not feel fatigued Poor dick, cough, cough, poor Alex, I mean. Earlier today I grossly contradicted myself by stating that I d enjoyed all the books I d read which were written by Philip Roth Then I realised I d forgotten about Portnoy s Complaint.There is a school of thought which says to write well you have to write about what you know On that basis I know I definitely did not like this book, although that unfortunately does not guarantee that I will excel at writing about it With that in mind Philip Roth is official King of writing about what you know and his throne is probably made from giant piles of books in which he has written about being himself or a variant thereof This book deals with several favorite Roth topics Being male tick Being Jewish tick Being an American Jewish Male tick A mild obsession with the penis tick Moderate biographical references throughout his works of fiction thus allowing us to see the author but never really get to know him tick.Not fitting into any of these categories, being neither male, Jewish, American or in possession of that vital bit of equipment penis, not brain before anyone makes jokes this book did not win me over A monologue of sexual repression poured forth by the eponymous Alexander Portnoy, a young man who is so tied to the apron strings of his mother that he s only managed to liberate his right hand and his libido Given the subject matter I think that it would be better dubbed a manologue rather than a monologue.The highlight of the book for many and this forms a lynch pin of many non Goodreads reviews and critiques is Alexander Portnoy s sexual adventures with a piece of raw liver Man meat meets cold meat in a way which might give you disturbing nightmares about visiting the deli The misused liver is then served up to the family as part of a delicious traditional Jewish recipe later that same day Gehakte leber anyone And don t even ask what the special ingredient in the schmaltz and gribenes is Si queremos creer al autor, El mal de Portnoy tambi n pudiera ser El lamento de Portnoy, ambas cosas es la novela y ambas acepciones tiene el Complaint ingl s no ten a como objeto ning n tipo de catarsis jud o parental sino una liberaci n de formas narrativas tradicionales Puede ser, no est bien contradecir a quien, desgraciadamente, ya no puede defenderse, pero creo que se lo tuvo que pasar estupendamente arremetiendo contra una cierta forma de sentir jud a, desconozco si alejada o no de la suyapersonas tan desagradables como yo hombres asustados, a la defensiva, que desprecian su propio ser, desalentados y corrompidos por la vida en el mundo de los gentiles Fueron los jud os de la Di spora, los jud os como yo, quienes se dejaron llevar por millones a las c maras de gas, sin levantar un dedo contra sus verdugos, sin ocurr rseles derramar su sangre para defender sus vidas La Di sporaEstamos en los a os 60 y lo que entonces era considerado sucio o repugnante en cuesti n de sexo quiz s ya no lo sea tanto o ya no nos asombre de la misma manera, y aun as la pol mica siempre perseguir a este lujurioso Alexander Portnoy, abogado jud o, de gran inteligencia y xito profesional, obsesionado con el sexo con chicas shikse, no jud as, que poseen el halo de depravaci n que les confiere ser el oscuro y prohibido objeto de deseo que se les atribuye en su comunidad y, por tanto, el camino m s corto para huir de su condici n jud a, adicto a la masturbaci n compulsiva y al sexo oral, al rgico al compromiso de fidelidad que casi siempre se impone en la parejatoda chica, por deliciosa y provocativa que haya podido parecerme, acabar result ndome m s familiar que una rebanada de pan, sentimentalmente esc pticoQu amor Es eso lo que une a todas esas parejas que conocemos, las que se toman la molestia de unirse No ser m s bien la debilidad No ser n m s bien la comodidad y la apat a y la culpa No ser n m s bien el miedo y el agotamiento y la inercia, la pura y simple falta de reda os, much simo m s que ese amor con el que los consejeros matrimoniales y los compositores de canciones y los psicoterapeutas andan siempre so andoap stata y cr tico con todo lo espec ficamente jud oNi se me pasaba por la cabeza que se pudiera uno beber un vaso de leche con el sandwich de salami sin ofender a Dios Todopoderoso, sin que ello signifique ning n tipo de sinton a con el cristianismo al que califica de estupidez supina, y patol gicamente propenso a culpar a su madre, unam quina de generar preocupaciones , por endosarle para siempre su quisquillosa conciencia moral, y a su d bil y estre ido padre por haberle dejado en sus manos sin proporcionarle ning n modelo masculino que le sirviera de contrapeso a la castradora figura de su madreQu ten an esos padres jud os, qu , para hacernos creer a los judiitos j venes, por un lado, que ramos unos pr ncipes, nicos en el mundo, como los unicornios, genios, m s brillantes que nadie nunca y m s guapos que ning n otro ni o de la historia Redentores, pura perfecci n, por un lado y, por el otro, torpes, incompetentes, inconscientes, desamparados, ego stas, malvados comemierdas, peque os ingratosY qu mejor forma de sacar todo lo que llevaba dentro, ya que siendo jud o la confesi n quedaba totalmente descartada, que el desahogo sin censuras ni tapujos que favorece un psicoanalista Aqu tenemos, por tanto, a Alexander Portnoy tumbado en el div n, incapaz de manejar su vida, abrumado por el deseo vergonzante, con su conciencia como principal enemigo e invadido por la culpa en un mon logo delirante, sucio, perverso, provocativo y, mucho he tardado en decirlo, divertid simoel detalle del suicidio de Ronald Nimkin que m s me llam la atenci n fue la nota para su madre que encontraron prendida a su amplia camisa de fuerza, a esa bonita camisa deportiva tan rigurosamente almidonada Sabe lo que dec a Adiv nelo El ltimo mensaje de Ronald a su mam Adiv nelo Ha llamado la se ora Blumenthal Que no te olvides de llevar las reglas del mah jong a la partida de esta noche en su casa