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Indignation Paperback – Sep 8 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada (Sept. 8 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143170422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143170426
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 12.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #297,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 130 reviews
73 of 89 people found the following review helpful
There Will Be Blood Oct. 2 2008
By R. W. Rasband - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Butchery and blood are recurring images in Philip Roth's scalding new novel which is probably his darkest comedy since Sabbath's Theater. The images are shocking yet appropriate since this little novel deals with a big subject: what someone once called "the meat-grinder of history." Many of Roth's familiar elements are here. The naive young Jewish hero meets up with an unstable gentile girl in the 1950's and farce ensues. But this is 1951 and the Korean War hovers over the story like a thundercloud. I wasn't very enthusiastic about Roth's last couple of novels which seemed rather flaccid to me. But this one has suspense, narrative drive and storytelling fury that recall his great "American" novels of 10 years ago, only in concentrated form. "Indignation" left me wrung out, like you hope a novel will do for you.

Marcus Messner announces on page 54 that he is dead (this is no great spoiler, believe me.) The dead narrator is a time-honored narrative strategy in film noir (see Sunset Boulevard (Special Collector's Edition) and the novels of Jim Thompson, especially Savage Night) and it's interesting to see how Roth uses it. Although there may be an alternative explanation for Marcus' state; check the chapter titles. As he tells his story we learn how he came to die. Practically driven out of his home by his loving but suddenly paranoid kosher butcher father, he flees to go to college in the same town as Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio (Signet Classics). The smart but inexperienced boy finds himself way over his head. He is flummoxed by a beautiful girl he dates and is unable to tolerate either a flamboyant gay roommate or the strictly conservative college administration with its Christian affiliation. Instead of laughing it off and making the best of it, as apparently Roth in real life was able to at Bucknell, Marcus goes to war with his surroundings. His private mantra becomes the Chinese national anthem he learned in grade school with its refrain "indignation, arise!" And in a hideous irony it is the Chinese army that butchers Marcus on a hill in Korea some months later.

This is a remarkable book: a terrible tragedy with farce, a funny book where the laughs catch in your throat. It once again displays Roth's famous psychological toughness; no one is let off the hook here. And Roth plays fair; although he displays what is coming to be his obvious disdain for religion of all kinds, he shows Marcus playing a role in his own destruction through the kid's own intolerance and pride. Although the president of the college is a Republican political hack (as Roth sees it), the author lets him deliver the theme of the novel in a thunderous speech near the end of the book: you may try to hide from history: but like Jonah inside the whale, it will find you.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
It needed something more Oct. 26 2009
By Reading Wasp - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have always enjoyed Philip Roth's work and this was no exception. The plot was interesting and characters vivid. The tale of a Jewish boy, who is the first generation to attend the school is universal in many ways. The inability to fit in, the cultural issues and the non functional family are something most of us can relate to. The reason I gave this book three stars is because I felt that there was something missing. It was almost like in the last part of the book, author got bored of the book and just wanted to end it. The end was abrupt and almost incomplete. However, maybe that is the moral of the book - the end is abrupt and there is no real plan in life.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Indignation - my take Dec 27 2008
By Emily R. Odza - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Do we each have a turning point or series of turning points in our lives that lead us to our fate? Or do we simply have things happen to us, in combination with our childhoods, our makeup, our genetics and the world events which catch us up, which in all their minutiae add up to "fate?" This is a small perfect book about which one should say nothing so that its progression and its surprises are not telegraphed in advance!
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
One of my favorite books of all time April 27 2010
By Derrick Hibbard - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently picked up this little book--my first exposure to Philip Roth--and was completely blown away. Someone described Roth as writing "perfect novels," and I think that this might just have been perfect. Short, concise, yet rich and descriptive. When you read this book, you are carried away into a different time, when things were simpler, yet so much more complex. You connect with the narrator because we've all been where he is--or at least, we've all experienced similar things--horrible roommates, rocky relationships with parents and authority figures, first love, first break-ups, and crazy adolescents.

The ending caught me by surprise--and the sheer irony of it all reminded me of life itself--no matter what happens, or what we do, life just marches on... Sometimes in the way we least expect it.

Great book, would certainly recommend.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Prolific Roth Keeps Rolling Oct. 22 2009
By David A. Moyer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Unlike some Roth books, in which he seems to be outrageous for the sole purpose of provoking the reader, this book can stand with his best work. It sits aside The Human Stain as a personal favorite of mine. He seemlessly weaves the the story of the main character into the historical backdrop of the Korean War, working in the timeless themes of parent-child relationships, love, and the human desire to make sense of the chaos around them. It served as an inspiration for my book, Life and Life Only. Roth seems in a hurry to write as much as he can while he can, yet the writings of his recent years are carefully crafted and a joy to read.

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