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5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm dark"
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...
Published on April 25 2004 by Henry Platte

versus
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. I think the deal with Neil and Brenda is that they were in love at some point of their lives but still their relationship was not so strong to handle a long distance relation, neither a problem with parents. Both...
Published on Nov. 22 2002 by Celly Belmirez


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5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm dark", April 25 2004
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This review is from: Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories (Paperback)
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. In this story, Roth displays a delicacy which is foremost among the things he inexplicably loses later on; he seems to like these characters, even the spoiled and decadent family, and stops to linger on minor details with a real zest for description.
Reading these stories made me think I had judged Roth too quickly after reading only two of his books; I read another, and was disappointed again. Stick to this one.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected, April 13 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories (Paperback)
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."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Say Goodbye to Columbus, and hello to a great writer, March 24 2004
This review is from: Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories (Paperback)
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. The absurd of the situation, and the characters focusing on another --maybe smaller-- issue are funny, when we don't think of the imminent situation.
One doesn't have to look any further to find hints of the themes and characters that would be present in further works. The daughter in 'Epstein' is somehow a draft of the daughter who would appear much more developed in his novel 'American Pastoral'.
All in all, 'Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories' is a good introduction for those curious to get into Roth's universe, and, it is a fundamental reading for the ones who like his books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage, Feb. 4 2004
By 
Jim Huang "huajima" (Boston, MA, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories (Paperback)
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. A must for Roth fans. The five short stores are all worthwhile reads. I've read "Defender of the Faith" before and enjoyed it very much. "Epstein" and "The Conversion of the Jews" are just as good.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Only the strong survive, Dec 27 2003
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This review is from: Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories (Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars I've Lived This Story, Dec 20 2002
By 
Oddsfish (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories (Paperback)
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. Neil relates the story of his love for the beautiful Brenda, a love in which the two share little in common. He presents his hopes and dreams and his ultimate realizations about the state of the world and about himself. The novella is ultimately a beautiful, complex coming-of-age story which it seems everyone goes through.
Goodbye, Columbus is one of the best books I have read. It was so realistic and easy to relate to. I think that I have had a relationship similar to every one related in the novel. There are so many great insights to be found here. The novella isn't a difficult read, but one should definitely be aware of a lot of the symbols (such as the title, the fruit, the lions, and the uncle at the wedding) to glean the most from it. I will also say a word about the short stories. All of them, particularly "The Conversion of the Jews," were wonderful. They alone would make the book worth five stars; they just seem to get forgotten because of the masterpiece the opening novella is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best book ever written about Newark?, Dec 1 2002
By 
hllib "hllib" (King of Prussia, PA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories (Paperback)
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 lead character works, is a park containing a statue of Christopher Columbus.
After reading this book many years ago, I was puzzled by the title. The "Columbus record" scenes to which the title refers did not seem as climactic and important to be highlighted. The Columbus record belongs to a second tier character, and yes, while the scene undergirds themes of coming of age and loss, the scene just didn't seem to be that important. But when you tie that coming-of-age theme to the statue of the explorer across from the lead character's workplace, where Neil no doubt ate lunch regularly, then you realize that Goodbye, Columbus, is Philip Roth's Goodbye to Berlin.
(I refer especially to the last scene in Berlin, in which all the characters in Isherwood's novel are having a picnic...no big deal, until you realize they are Jews and homosexuals and intellectuals and everyone else who, if they fail to get out, will be doomed shortly by the Third Reich. And all of it is left unsaid, the history is left to comment on the work on its own.)
In Columbus, the stakes are lower but analogous. The lead character is going to leave Newark ... he still works there, but he's going to say goodbye to that statue across the street, by extention the city. It's all unsaid but after the lead character gets out of Newark, the construction of I-78 will mean the beautiful neighborhood where Neil and his family lived will be torn apart; after that, Newark faces a particularly corrupt administration that starts the flight of businesses and sets the stage for the three days of devastating riots in 1967 (the ruins of which stood for more than 20 years) and the flight of half the population from the city.
Goodbye to Columbus was written while the forces that destroyed Newark were inchoate, but it only means that in this case, Roth was prescient.
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3.0 out of 5 stars kind of bitter, Nov. 22 2002
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. I think the deal with Neil and Brenda is that they were in love at some point of their lives but still their relationship was not so strong to handle a long distance relation, neither a problem with parents. Both were still immature, especially Brenda who could not take her own decisions because, as a little child, she was influenced by her parents, no matter what she felt. On the other side, Neil ran out of love so, at the end, he was not interested on fighting for their love. I believe that the idea of the story is sad but is still has some humorous parts that will make you enjoy the book at the same time it teaches you a lesson.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Page in everybody's book of life, Nov. 22 2002
By 
Ana Eddie (Monterrey, Nuevo Leon Mexico) - See all my reviews
It's a literary masterpiece, realistic as it can be, Goodbye Columbus makes you feel as if you were 19 again. Neil's way of looking at life makes him a very interesting protagonist. For example the way he relates to the little black kid of the library. Roth really scored a hundred with this book, he makes the reader relates to the selfish feeling of a typical College student, like Brenda. It makes you laugh going into two different mentalities such as Neil's and Brenda's. What makes it the best is that at the end the reader can make his own conclusions about what happened in the story and why it is name like that.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ingen a toda su..., Nov. 21 2002
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This review is from: Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories (Paperback)
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. Phillip Roth exposes the differences between classes and uses the characters to show in a great manner the way of living and thinking of each part of the society. It also shows the lack of commitment that some teenagers may have and the problems that this may cause. Not to spoil the whole book for the readers the last thing that should be said is that the book is entertaining, even though some of the characters are not likeable; especially Neil. Everyone should read this book if they want to pass a good time and if they want to know about social conflicts.
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Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories
Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories by Philip Roth (Paperback - Jan. 13 1994)
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