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Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories [Paperback]

Philip Roth
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 13 1994 Vintage International
Roth's award-winning first book instantly established its author's reputation as a writer of explosive wit, merciless insight, and a fierce compassion for even the most self-deluding of his characters.

Goodbye, Columbus is the story of Neil Klugman and pretty, spirited Brenda Patimkin, he of poor Newark, she of suburban Short Hills, who meet one summer break and dive into an affair that is as much about social class and suspicion as it is about love. The novella is accompanied by five short stories that range in tone from the iconoclastic to the astonishingly tender and that illuminate the subterranean conflicts between parents and children and friends and neighbors in the American Jewish diaspora.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In 1974's My Life as A Man Roth examines how a writer revises his reality, compiling two stories "by" one Peter Tarnopol and a third in which Tarnopol is the fictional protagonist. Vintage will simultaneously reissue Goodbye, Columbus , Roth's National Book Award-winning first novel, together in a new edition with five short stories.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This release by the 1960 National Book Award winner will acquaint listeners with the world of American Jews in the 1950s and to Roths wit and insight into the problems accompanying assimilation. A widely respected American writer, Roth is the author of 22 books, including American Pastoral (Audio Reviews, LJ 10/1/97) and I Married a Communist (Houghton, 1998). Goodbye, Columbus features Neil Klugman, a young man from Newark living with his aunt, and Brenda Patimkin, an archetypal Jewish American Princess, whose summer romance illustrates the tension between old world values and the new suburb-based culture. Provocative and entertaining, the other stories tell of likable characters, mostly men, who embrace their Jewishness yet must face conflicts in family and community. Although written nearly 40 years ago, these stories illustrate truths about America and its relationship with Jews that remain relevant today. The readers, who include actors Theodore Bikel and Elliott Gould, are all excellent, capturing the particular characteristics of Jewish American speech. Highly recommended for all libraries.Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm dark" April 25 2004
I'm not a huge fan of Roth at all, and when discussing him, I always seem to forget that he wrote these stories. It really does seem like the work of a different author; a brighter, more clever and inventive one; namely, younger. Maybe the mold of cynicism just set around him at a certain point as he aged, in which case Goodbye, Colombus stands as his first and last good work.
First of all, the writing is first-rate modern American, a light but not overly breezy style, something like Bellow. Especially in the title story, the subtle humor is very effective, and he has a Salingerian gift for making the last sentence of a paragraph resonate. The themes, also, that continue throughout the stories are well-developed and intriguing; in 'Defender of the Faith,' he shows how a very convincing sociopath takes advantage of his Jewish identity and uses it as a weapon; in a story the title of which I can't remember, a young boy rebels against the oppressive Jewish instruction of his elders; then, later, in 'Eli the Fanatic,' Roth shows a man discovering solace in the stark rituals of traditional Judaism. The issue is examined from many angles. 'Epstein' is more suggestive of his later work and somehwat distasteful, very bleak, but a convincing portrait of an aging and frustrated Jewish man. 'You can't tell a man by the song he sings' is lighter and has little relation to the theme of Judaism, in case you were beginning to think Roth couldn't write about anything else.
The title story is easily the best; the rest are just accesories. While the romance which it depicts never really seems justified (what does she see in him to begin with?), the writing is superlative and the characters interesting, and the semitragic conclusion more moving than it really should be.
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Not many writers had such a great debut as Philip Roth with his 'Goodbye, Columbus'. His harshest critics may say he has had ups and downs in his career, but no one can say that his first book is not superb --even those who don't like it. Crafting with a short novella, Roth was able to display all his qualities that he would develop later on with his books.
'Columbus' is nothing more than the simple story of a summertime love. A Jewish boy named Neil meets a girl, who belongs to an upper level in society, they fall in love, and, above everything, have to deal with their social difference. But the way Roth writer is so simply profound and beautiful, that it is impossible no to be touched by this little masterpiece.
The characters are so well developed, that the more one reads the more compelling the story becomes. Not failing to mention such a fresh sense of humor that makes this novella very funny. This same quality appears in the other five short stories gathered in this Vintage edition.
One may complain that Roth has not much creativity, writing about only one subject: the young Jewish man in the late 50's. But that is not really true. His stories are similar not because of the lack of imagination, but because the writer cares to focus his attention in this subject. And, although, it seems a limited issue at first, with his words it becomes easily universal, because above all the stories concern on the human condition.
Among the stories, it is possible to find one the finest Roth's short texts: 'Defender of the faith'. The surreality of the proximity of the war and the dispute between the two main characters somehow reminds the tour de force present in the movies made by Amos Gitai.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Only the strong survive Dec 27 2003
Philip Roth obviously doesn't believe in stretching his imagination too much - the main story here and most of the supporting shorter stories revolve around Jewish boys growing up around Newark, New Jersey. His real strength however lies in his ability to take these characters and describe and examine what makes them tick, and imbue them with just enough personal identity to distinguish them from each other and allow them to sink into our consciousness.
"Goodbye Columbus" the story is a touching tale of a summer romance between two individuals from very different social circles. There isn't much plot, not very much happens and the moral dilemma that ultimately shapes the fate of the relationship is a bit hard to relate to in these promiscuous times. Roth doesn't spend much time on that aspect of the plot, presuming perhaps that his contemporary reader would be only too familiar with the portrayed dilemma. Reading it at the start of the 21st century I feel unable to fully empathize with the protagonists' situation. However the prose is well observed, the situations and dialogue are witty and amusing and although the ending is a bit weak, I feel the beauty of the writing transcends generational barriers.
The short stories are more pointed, and pithier, and perhaps make for better reading. As in Roth's other work, the characters are mostly very Jewish, and many revolve around particularly Jewish themes, feelings and situations. However I still found myself well able to identify with the narrators, despite being handicapped by my obvious goyishness.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected
I had to read this book for a college class, and it was not what I expected. I liked "Defender of the Jews" but not the main novella, "Goodbye Columbus."
Published on April 13 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage
The title story, Goodbye, Columbus is everything you expect from this great writer. The interaction and dialogue between the main character and his aunt is extremely funny. Read more
Published on Feb. 4 2004 by Jim Huang
5.0 out of 5 stars I've Lived This Story
Goodbye, Columbus is the story of Neil Klugman from poor Newark and Brenda Patimkin from an upper-crust family in Short Hills and their relationship over a summer. Read more
Published on Dec 20 2002 by Oddsfish
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book ever written about Newark?
The book's brilliant.
Here's one thing that's not in the book that perhaps sheds some light on understanding the title: Across the street from the Newark Library, where the... Read more
Published on Dec 1 2002 by hllib
3.0 out of 5 stars kind of bitter
Goodbye Columbus is a book that shows reality about love. I really recommend it to everyone, specially the teenagers who want to learn a tough lesson about life. Read more
Published on Nov. 21 2002 by Celly Belmirez
4.0 out of 5 stars A Page in everybody's book of life
It's a literary masterpiece, realistic as it can be, Goodbye Columbus makes you feel as if you were 19 again. Read more
Published on Nov. 21 2002 by Ana Eddie
4.0 out of 5 stars A Story That Can Remind You of any old summer love.
Indeed a book worth reading. Neil and Brenda's love affair is a clear example of materialism in love affairs. Read more
Published on Nov. 21 2002 by Demaria¿s Students
4.0 out of 5 stars A page in everybody's book of life.
It's a literary masterpiece, realistic as it can be, Goodbye Columbus makes you feel as if you were 19 again. Read more
Published on Nov. 21 2002 by Ana Eddie
4.0 out of 5 stars Ingen a toda su...
Goodbye Columbus is a good book about love, the lack of love and the gaps between society. It talks about the relationship between a middle class Jew and an upper class Jew. Read more
Published on Nov. 21 2002 by Algun hijo de toda su
5.0 out of 5 stars Neil and Brenda, sitting in a tree...
A friend, who is an admirer of Roth's other works, especially American Pastoral, dismisses this as "sentimental nonsense. Read more
Published on May 21 2002 by Ashok Karra
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