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Product Details

  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Library edition (April 15 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441805729
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441805720
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.3 x 19 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 45 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

By offering his memoirs plus a critique of same penned by his alter ego Nathan Zuckerman, Roth here undermines the autobiographical genre as he derailed fictional conventions in The Counterlife. Roth lays bare his private lifeor obscures the really juicy parts because, as Zuckerman says, autobiography may indeed be "the most manipulative of all literary forms." He also manages to beat those nasty book reviewers to the punch, because Zuckerman is the first to recognize that "this isn't you at your most interesting." Bathed here in a quasi-nostalgic glow, the writer's youth and college years are pretty tame; Roth is smart, loquacious but quite the good Jewish boy. The book becomes much more energetic and absorbing when Roth describes his self-destructive relationship with "Josie," a woman who bought a urine specimen from a pregnant black stranger in a park in order to bully Roth into marrying her (which he does after insisting on an abortion), and whom Roth calls "the greatest creative-writing teacher of them all, specialist par excellence in the aesthetics of extremist fiction." Another unlikely font for his imagination was the Jewish community; the uproar over Goodbye, Columbus helped to fuel Portnoy's Complaint and the Zuckerman series. Despite their weaknesses, these reflections would stand even on their own as perspicacious insights by a past master of fiction on a writer's beginnings, quest for freedom and creative muses. With the Zuckerman add-on, the book becomes a unique demonstration of the superiority of fiction over autobiography as an uninhibited, introspective, self-confrontive form. Portions of the book previously appeared in the Atlantic , New York Times Book Review and Vanity Fair. BOMC and QPBC selections.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

There is no doubt that Roth has secured a place for himself in American literary history, and this book will do nothing to jeopardize that place. Roth provides an anecdotal journey through five stages of his life: his New Jersey youth; his college days at Bucknell; meeting his wife-to-be while an instructor at the University of Chicago; his early writing days, including the uproar he caused in the Jewish community; and his life in the Sixties. Roth may have written "the facts," but they are not the complete facts. The work is episodic, sketchy, and sometimes self-indulgent (as such books as this can be), but an offering from one like Roth belongs in libraries. John Budd, Graduate Lib. Sch., Univ. of Arizona, Tucson
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jason Baer on April 19 2001
Format: Paperback
Leave it to Phillip Roth to take a traditional autobiography and turn it on its ear. The book begins with a brief letter from Roth to his fictional character Zuckerman, explaining that he (Roth) has written a brief autobiography and wanted to get Zuckerman's input. Then comes the autobiography, a concise version of Roth's history focusing primarily upon his childhood, his college years, and his marriage to a woman who he later describes as his "nemesis." Finally the book ends with Zuckerman's comments on Roth's text. Just the thought of it is enough to make you laugh, but there is value in this approach. Roth clearly feels uneasy discussing himself, and so the fictional character allows him to break down his own personality without appearing overly self-indulgent. This final Zuckerman section is very insightful and alleviated my doubts that perhaps Phillip Roth does not understand himself as well as he would like to think.
'The Facts' is a quick read and goes a long way in illustrating how a nice Jewish boy from a good family in the suburbs of New Jersey could find enough angst in his life to eventually line his desk with a Pulitzer Prize, two PEN/Faulkner Awards, and a National Book Award. I would recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed anything by this master of the literary realm. (If you haven't yet read any of his novels, try Portnoy's Complaint, American Pastoral, or Goodbye Columbus... but you really can't go wrong, everything he's written is terrific.)
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Format: Paperback
In this short, fascinating book Roth narrates the story of his life up to the publication of "Portnoy's Complaint." Then, in a long epilogue, Nathan Zuckerman (Roth's fictional alter-ego) critiques Roth's account, pointing out omissions and biases and attacking the "public relations tone" of the manuscript. If you have ever felt the sting of your outraged conscience, or laughed at how you trip over your own feet intellectually, Roth is the author for you.
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By A Customer on Jan. 28 1998
Format: Hardcover
This would be a ten, but it's only a nine because the facts aren't the facts. No, this isn't Roth. It's him pretending to be Zuckerman. But, when he asked Zuckerman if Roth should still write, happily he agrees.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 16 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
An Autobiography Unlike Any Other Jan. 12 2001
By R. W. Rasband - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In this short, fascinating book Roth narrates the story of his life up to the publication of "Portnoy's Complaint." Then, in a long epilogue, Nathan Zuckerman (Roth's fictional alter-ego) critiques Roth's account, pointing out omissions and biases and attacking the "public relations tone" of the manuscript. If you have ever felt the sting of your outraged conscience, or laughed at how you trip over your own feet intellectually, Roth is the author for you.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Not Just The Facts April 19 2001
By Jason Baer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Leave it to Phillip Roth to take a traditional autobiography and turn it on its ear. The book begins with a brief letter from Roth to his fictional character Zuckerman, explaining that he (Roth) has written a brief autobiography and wanted to get Zuckerman's input. Then comes the autobiography, a concise version of Roth's history focusing primarily upon his childhood, his college years, and his marriage to a woman who he later describes as his "nemesis." Finally the book ends with Zuckerman's comments on Roth's text. Just the thought of it is enough to make you laugh, but there is value in this approach. Roth clearly feels uneasy discussing himself, and so the fictional character allows him to break down his own personality without appearing overly self-indulgent. This final Zuckerman section is very insightful and alleviated my doubts that perhaps Phillip Roth does not understand himself as well as he would like to think.
'The Facts' is a quick read and goes a long way in illustrating how a nice Jewish boy from a good family in the suburbs of New Jersey could find enough angst in his life to eventually line his desk with a Pulitzer Prize, two PEN/Faulkner Awards, and a National Book Award. I would recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed anything by this master of the literary realm. (If you haven't yet read any of his novels, try Portnoy's Complaint, American Pastoral, or Goodbye Columbus... but you really can't go wrong, everything he's written is terrific.)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A good book, but only of interest to those familiar with his work Oct. 9 2006
By Crag Talent - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Philip Roth is undoubtably one of the 20th centuries best authors. He is also a fairly interesting figure and much of his best work is highly autobiographical...

as such, it is inevitable that people are interested in the "truth" of his life and what really happened. Roth obliges here, mostly, giving us an account of his life (only up until the publication of Portnoy's Complaint though) that seems quite true, but written in a way that feels novelistic and as if Roth was writing in the voice of another character. Then he bookends the autobiography with his fictional counter part, Zuckerman, commenting on the text and pondering the nature of truth, autobiography, etc.

This is a good book, but at then end of the day its not interesting to anyone who hasn't read the Zuckerman books, Portnoy's Complaint and his other autobiographical books. Its nice to get an account of what he drew on exactly, but only if you've read those books.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Roth Restarts his Engine by Writing an Autobiography July 24 2011
By Ethan Cooper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
THE FACTS: A Novelist's Autobiography is primarily the autobiography of Philip Roth, which is written as a letter from Roth to Nathan Zuckerman, a character or narrator of many of Roth's novels. This novelist's autobiography, published in 1988, presents Roth's experiences up to the publication of PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT, which published in 1969 when Roth was 36 years old. For Roth, this novel was a breakthrough, since it was a "...high-spirited moment when the manic side of my imagination took off and I became my own writer..."

In the start of this letter, Roth explains to Zuckerman why he has decided to write an autobiography. In brief, Roth suffered from "fiction fatigue." In order to restart his engine, he decided to write an autobiography, since... "For me, as for most novelists, every genuine imaginative event begins down there, with the facts, with the specific, and not the philosophical, the ideological, the abstract." In this way, he intends to "...get back to the original well, not for material but for the launch, the relaunch--out of fuel, back to tank up on the magic blood."

Most of THE FACTS (the prologue and five of its six chapters) reads as a very interesting writer's autobiography, with Roth exploring the dynamics of his childhood and family, his experiences in college, the development of his relationship with his difficult shiksa wife, their separation, the publication of the transformative PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT, and his wife's death in an automobile accident. While there are many threads in this narrative, one certainly shows Roth "freeing" himself, not from "...my Jewishness or from my family..." but from "...an apprentice's literary models, particularly from the awesome graduate-school authority of Henry James, whose PORTRAIT OF A LADY had been a virtual handbook during the early drafts of LETTING GO." The bulk of THE FACTS ends with Roth "... determined to be an absolutely independent, self-sufficient man..."

In response to this autobiography, the character Nathan Zuckerman writes a return letter (and final chapter in THE FACTS) to Roth, which criticizes the autobiography. At the time THE FACTS published, Roth's most recent novel was the impressive THE COUNTERLIFE, which placed Zuckerman in a tense marriage with the upper-crust and very English Maria. In this return letter, Zuckerman calls autobiography the "most manipulative" literary form, due, in part, to its self-censorship. Further, he says that he trusts Roth more as a novelist than an autobiographer, since "your separating the facts from the imagination empties them of their potential dramatic energy." Then, Zuckerman proceeds to cast doubt on all aspects of Roth's autobiography, especially his portrayal of his mother, his wife, and May, his current girlfriend. Roth, in other words, uses the character Zuckerman to explore the shortcoming of this particular autobiography and this literary form.

In the prologue, Roth says he wrote THE FACTS to restart his fictional engine. This, he achieves at the very end of this book, when Maria reads Roth's letter to Zuckerman and then begins to express criticism of her husband, and then Roth, for deliberately creating tension and struggle in their fictional marriage, since this feeds both her husband's and Roth's work. At this point, the rejuvenated Roth has brought his readers back into his imaginary realm, where, as the cliché says, the characters have taken over the narrative. Roth has restarted his engine.

To its readers, THE FACTS bestows insights about the sources of Roth's early work, interesting criticism of autobiography, and a clever structure, which apparently helped Roth to write his way out of a slump. Recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
He keeps himself to himself Jan. 17 2011
By Paul Rooney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A short 1988 autobiography written in answer to criticism that all his novels are purely autobiographical.

It is very short only 195 pages and is broken down into 5 chapters , childhood, education , first loves etc.

He writes about everybody but himself which is strange for an autobiography, of course he is present but all the details are about others.

We have a big chapter on his girlfriend Josie - the angriest person he ever met- she was also mad, pulling little stunts like feigning pregnancies ( buying urine off pregnant woman). So he did what you normally do with a creature like this - he married her!! and sentenced himself to a few more years of hell.

There is nothing regarding his writing, it all seems to have just fallen into place for him, there doesn't appear to be any rejection from publishers, the novels just got published and he carried on meeting new women and having holidays at the beach.

Of course there are events in his life that have cropped up in his novels, there was however no mention of him abusing the family liver as in Portnoys Complaint.

But really as an autobiography this is a flop, as I have mentioned he is very good writing about other people but he keeps himself fairly well hidden.

Roth is an acquired taste and if you are a fan this is worth while, but if not I would wait for the biography and hopefully get a bit more information about the lad.


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