Monday, March 21, 2016

Portnoy's Complaint - Philip Roth

Portnoy's Complaint
Title: Portnoy's Complaint
Author: Philip Roth
Publication Date: 1969
Pages: 274
Genre:  Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels list
Date Completed: 2/13/16

Summary: Alexander Portnoy is relaying his troubles to his therapist. Most of them revolve around his intense sex drive and/or his stereotypical Jewish mother.

What I Thought: There's no easy way to put this. I hated this book.

Seriously. Hated. It.

Most times, when a book appears on the 100 Best list, even if I do not care for it, I can recognize the skill behind its words or the importance of its message or...or something. But this one, I simply could not stand on any level. Maybe for sex-crazed Jewish boys, it was a revelation, a recognition that they were not alone in their emotions. For me, however, it fell very, very flat.

I do recognize the book came in the midst of the American sexual revolution and thus was a product and part of that era's zeitgeist. Regardless, it was so over the top for me. It felt like the literary equivalent of modern sex comedies such as American Pie (which may well have drawn some inspiration from Roth). I find those films to be gratuitous and scandalous for the sake of scandal, not depth or development. 

I'm sure there are plenty out there who would argue the merits of this book. After all, it's on the list. It's clearly been impactful to some level on our culture. For me, though, it was way over the top and cringe-inducing. I even resorted to skimming at points just to get past certain scenes. I'll take a hard pass on this one, thanks. 

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Absolutely not
If You Liked This Try: Lolita / Slaughterhouse-Five / The Catcher in the Rye
Other Books By Philip Roth: The Plot Against America

A Reduced Review: It's rare that I hate a book as much as I hated this one. 

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