Wednesday's HOT MIC
A word on the passing of writer Philip Roth, who many considered one of the greatest American novelists of the 20th century.
The New Yorker has a short, poignant, retrospective:
Roth also leaves behind a corpus of essays, criticism, and other artifacts, some of which Adam Gopnik explored in his essay “Philip Roth, Patriot,” last year. For this magazine, Roth wrote once and again about his friend Saul Bellow, exchanged letters with a dismayed Mary McCarthy on his novel “The Counterlife,” posted an open letter to Wikipedia airing objections to its entry on “The Human Stain,” and e-mailed with the staff writer Judith Thurman about how his book “The Plot Against America” foreshadowed the rise of Donald Trump. Just last summer, The New Yorker published Roth’s piece on American identity, and on his love of American place names: “The pleasurable sort of sentiment aroused by the mere mention of Spartanburg, Santa Cruz, or the Nantucket Light, as well as unassuming Skunktown Plain, or Lost Mule Flat, or the titillatingly named Little French Lick.”
David Remnick wrote about Roth’s retirement, in 2012, and, the following year, sent a dispatch from Roth’s eightieth-birthday celebration, in Newark—Roth’s home town and the site of much of his fiction. That night, Roth read a famous passage from “Sabbath’s Theater,” “death-haunted but assertive of life,” Remnick wrote. “The passage ends with his hero putting stones on the graves of the dead. Stones that honor the dead. Stones that are also meant to speak to the dead, to mark the presence of life, as well, if only for a while. The passage ends simply. It ends with the line, ‘Here I am.’ ”
Roth was an amazing writer who delved into American themes unlike many writers of his generation. Every once and a while, I find my dog-eared paperback copy of The Human Stain and enjoy reading it all over again.
He will be missed.