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Letting Go

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Paperback published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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Letting Go is Roth's first full-length novel, published just after Goodbye, Columbus, when he was twenty-nine. Set in 1950s Chicago, New York, and Iowa city, Letting Go presents as brilliant a fictional portrait as we have of a mid-century America defined by social and ethical constraints and by moral compulsions conspicuously different from those of today.

Newly discharged from the Korean War army, reeling from his mother's recent death, freed from old attachments and hungrily seeking others, Gabe Wallach is drawn to Paul Herz, a fellow graduate student in literature, and to Libby, Paul's moody, intense wife. Gabe's desire to be connected to the ordered "world of feeling" that he finds in books is first tested vicariously by the anarchy of the Herzes' struggles with responsible adulthood and then by his own eager love affairs. Driven by the desire to live seriously and act generously, Gabe meets an impassable test in the person of Martha Reganhart, a spirited, outspoken, divorced mother of two, a formidable woman who, according to critic James Atlas, is masterfully portrayed with "depth and resonance."

The complex liason between Gabe and Martha and Gabe's moral enthusiasm for the trials of others are at the heart of this tragically comic work.
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Letting Go is Roth's first full-length novel, published just after Goodbye, Columbus, when he was twenty-nine. Set in 1950s Chicago, New York, and Iowa city, Letting Go presents as brilliant a fictional portrait as we have of a mid-century America defined by social and ethical constraints and by moral compulsions conspicuously different from those of today.

Newly discharged from the Korean War army, reeling from his mother's recent death, freed from old attachments and hungrily seeking others, Gabe Wallach is drawn to Paul Herz, a fellow graduate student in literature, and to Libby, Paul's moody, intense wife. Gabe's desire to be connected to the ordered "world of feeling" that he finds in books is first tested vicariously by the anarchy of the Herzes' struggles with responsible adulthood and then by his own eager love affairs. Driven by the desire to live seriously and act generously, Gabe meets an impassable test in the person of Martha Reganhart, a spirited, outspoken, divorced mother of two, a formidable woman who, according to critic James Atlas, is masterfully portrayed with "depth and resonance."

The complex liason between Gabe and Martha and Gabe's moral enthusiasm for the trials of others are at the heart of this tragically comic work.
Product Details
Paperback (640 pages)
Published: September 2, 1997
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780679764175
Other books byPhilip Roth
  • Philip Roth: Nemeses

    Philip Roth: Nemeses
    Everyman / Indignation / The Humbling / Nemesis...
    What kind of choices fatally shape a life? How does the individual withstand the onslaught of circumstance? These are the dark questions that animate Nemeses, the quartet of thematically related short novels that are published here together for the first time in this final volume of The Library of America’s definitive edition of Philip Roth’s collected works. Everyman (2006) is the sparse and affecting story of one man’s lifelong skirmish with mortality. Set against the backdrop of the Korean War, Indignation (2008) is the extraordinary narrative of a young man struggling against the conformity of McCarthy-era America and his father’s overwhelming fear. In The Humbling (2009), aging actor Simon Axler embarks on a risky and aberrant affair in a desperate attempt to recoup his lost artistic gifts. And in Nemesis (2010), Roth offers an exacting portrait of the emotions—fear and anger, bewilderment and grief—bred by a polio epidemic in Newark in the summer of 1944. Philip Roth is the only living American novelist to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by The Library of America. He has received the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award twice, the PEN/Faulkner Award three times, the National Medal of Arts, and the Gold Medal in Fiction, the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

    Philip Roth: Novels 2001-2007

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    The definitive Philip Roth edition continues with three novels written in his late sixties and early seventies. The Dying Animal (2001) marks the final return of David Kepesh from The Breast (1972) and The Professor of Desire (1977). Now an eminent cultural critic in his sixties, Kepesh expertly seduces a beautiful twenty-four-year-old daughter of Cuban exiles only to find himself torn by sexual jealousy and the anguish of loss. As The Plot Against America (2004) begins, aviation hero Charles A. Lindbergh has defeated Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election, and fear invades every Jewish household in America. Lindbergh has publicly blamed the Jews for pushing America toward a pointless war with Nazi Germany, and now in office, he negotiates a cordial “understanding” with Adolf Hitler. What follows for Jews during the Lindbergh presidency—most particularly in the Newark household of the boy Philip Roth—is the subject of an extraordinary work of historical imagination. With Exit Ghost (2007) Roth rings down the curtain on perhaps his greatest literary creation. Nathan Zuckerman returns to a radically changed New York, the city he left eleven years before, where a rash decision draws him into a vivid drama rife with implications for his future, and his past. Philip Roth is the only living American novelist to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by The Library of America. He has received the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award twice, the PEN/Faulkner Award three times, the National Medal of Arts, and the Gold Medal in Fiction, the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

    Everyman

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    Philip Roth's new novel is a candidly intimate yet universal story of loss, regret, and stoicism. The bestselling author of The Plot Against America now turns his attention from "one family's harrowing encounter with history" (New York Times) to one man's lifelong skirmish with mortality. The fate of Roth's everyman is traced from his first shocking confrontation with death on the idyllic beaches of his childhood summers, through the family trials and professional achievements of his vigorous adulthood, and into his old age, when he is rended by observing the deterioration of his contemporaries and stalked by his own physical woes. The terrain of this powerful novel is the human body. Its subject is the common experience that terrifies us all.

    Indignation

    Indignation
    Against the backdrop of the Korean War, a young man faces life’s unimagined chances and terrifying consequences. It is 1951 in America, the second year of the Korean War. A studious, law-abiding, intense youngster from Newark, New Jersey, Marcus Messner, is beginning his sophomore year on the pastoral, conservative campus of Ohio’s Winesburg College. And why is he there and not at the local college in Newark where he originally enrolled? Because his father, the sturdy, hard-working neighborhood butcher, seems to have gone mad -- mad with fear and apprehension of the dangers of adult life, the dangers of the world, the dangers he sees in every corner for his beloved boy. As the long-suffering, desperately harassed mother tells her son, the father’s fear arises from love and pride. Perhaps, but it produces too much anger in Marcus for him to endure living with his parents any longer. He leaves them and, far from Newark, in the midwestern college, has to find his way amid the customs and constrictions of another American world. Indignation, Philip Roth’s twenty-ninth book, is a story of inexperience, foolishness, intellectual resistance, sexual discovery, courage, and error. It is a story told with all the inventive energy and wit Roth has at his command, at once a startling departure from the haunted narratives of old age and experience in his recent books and a powerful addition to his investigations of the impact of American history on the life of the vulnerable individual.

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