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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

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2.0 out of 5 stars Unfinished Short Stories
"Goodbye, Columbus," by Philip Roth, is a series of short stories. Each story has it's own characters and plot. Roth begins with a story about man and women who fall in love. They experience many conflicts such as family matters and working habits. The second story is about a boy who is trying to discover how Jesus was established as a religious icon. His...
Published on April 25 2000


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5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm dark", April 25 2004
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Ce commentaire est de: 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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5.0 out of 5 stars Say Goodbye to Columbus, and hello to a great writer, March 24 2004
Ce commentaire est de: 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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4.0 out of 5 stars Only the strong survive, Dec 27 2003
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Ce commentaire est de: 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
Ce commentaire est de: 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
Ce commentaire est de: 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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5.0 out of 5 stars Neil and Brenda, sitting in a tree..., May 21 2002
By 
Ashok Karra (Cherry Hill, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories (Paperback)
A friend, who is an admirer of Roth's other works, especially American Pastoral, dismisses this as "sentimental nonsense." I argue that "Goodbye, Columbus" - the story itself, forget the five other stories (although they're good too) - is a classic. Certainly it is written in an autobiographical vein, and depends on its readers' emotions to be effective, but there is something more to this book.
And I think lots of people miss that "something" when they say that "Goodbye, Columbus" is about "capitalism" or "social class" or even about secular Jews trying to find themselves - let alone each other - in our crazy, modern world. All of these critiques are right at some points, but they miss the crucial thing: "Goodbye, Columbus" is a love story, a very scary love story.
If Roth gets anything right with Neil and Brenda, it is their absolute inability to communicate despite being two of the most educated people on earth. Neil thinks he's advancing the relationship - telling Brenda he cares - when he tells her to visit Sanger's clinic. He thinks by catering to her every whim that he's loving her. (What she thinks is unclear. The story is told from Neil's point of view and doesn't show Brenda to be particularly moral, or even thinking along such lines, at all.)
And maybe in some perfect world, Neil would be right, his love would be made truly manifest in such things. But even he knows he's living a dream, at best. All that's left in terms of love in a world without commitment and tenderness is carnality, and that only goes so far...
As I said, a classic. You'll have to read the book to find out if I'm right about it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Short stories are much better than the title work., July 28 2000
By 
John McDonough (Jersey City, NJ) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories (Paperback)
Philip Roth was unknown to me until I noticed 3 of his books in my roommates collection. I chanced across a copy of this book at a Salvation Army. Man, can this guy write! I wasn't that impressed with Goodbye Columbus; the characters weren't too likeable. (actually, a lot of his characters aren't that likeable.) But "Defender of the Faith", about some Jewish soldiers in WWII, blew me away. Absolutely one of the finest short stories I've ever read, right up there with Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" and Ray Bradbury's "The Veldt". The other short stories are also of highest quality, especially "Conversion of the Jews". Be warned, though. He deals with very sensitive issues about the Jewish people & faith. And he doesn't pull punches. As a gentile, I took his comments in stride, but I can see where people might get offended. There were a few times when I said "He did not write that, did he?" However, these issues are obviously very personal to him, and he must write what he feels. A highly recommended book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best debuts of any writer, ever, July 6 2000
By 
asphlex "asphlex" (Philadelphia, PA USA) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories (Paperback)
Philip Roth is a great writer. Yeah, we've all heard this at one point or another (at least those of you taking and wasting time to read a review of one of his books). This was Mr. Roth's first published work, a short novel and five short stories that forced us to realize this man had arrived violently on the scene as a powerful literary force. Let's talk about the stories in this collection:
"Goodbye, Columbus" is, honestly, without the standard hyperbole so many people slab into reviews such as this, one of the best novels I have ever read. It was written by a twenty-five year old man who was only going to get better (as his work from the mid-1980s to the present firmly establishes) yet here we have the wisdom of our great American gods. It is a beautiful story, funny and painful and filled with truths anyone in those recent post-college, still-not-finding-one's self perspective could learn and grow from. I love this story, and it is filled with agonizing self-analytical material that shows who it is we are dealing with, the intellect and the passion, the savagry and the wit. There are not too many single stories of American authors I could recommend more highly than this book, in particular the five page sequence from which this story gets its title. It is haunting and true, one of the rare glories of English in narrative form. If for nothing else, get this book to read this lovely novella. It is, profoundly, a masterpiece (not a term I use lightly either, being the bitter cynic I am--check out other reviews I've written--I can get rather mean)>
Among the other stories, the most celebrated is "Conversion of the Jews", and for good reason. This is another gorgeously written tale about self-discovery and the agony of those questions all beginning with 'Why?' Here is a story questioning faith, questioning the idea of God or a higher power that has been transformed into such a makeshift mythology by all the varying faiths, why bother, it asks, what is the point and is it real and who are we and why are we here and why why why why why? This is a great story.
Sadly, this collection is begun with the two tales I have so widely praised. The remaining stories are good--very good, in fact, but following up "Goodbye, Columbus" and "Conversion of the Jews", something is lost as they are unable (quite understandably--what 25 year old author is going to maintain such sustained greatness? It took Roth 27 years to return to this passion in "The Counterlife", and then he expanded from there, getting better and better progressively, and never looking back)to keep up the fascination. Now this is not to say there is anything wrong with these other stories. Had they been all there was in this collection I would have looked back with nodding approval and said, "Hey, this guy is going somewhere." But they are not the first two stories and are almost awkwardly placed as an aftermath of a developing great author. Get this book urgently, and read them all. Just don't allow yourself to be soured by the slightly lesser material following the first two masterworks.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Unfinished Short Stories, April 25 2000
By A Customer
Ce commentaire est de: Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories (Paperback)
"Goodbye, Columbus," by Philip Roth, is a series of short stories. Each story has it's own characters and plot. Roth begins with a story about man and women who fall in love. They experience many conflicts such as family matters and working habits. The second story is about a boy who is trying to discover how Jesus was established as a religious icon. His misunderstanding leads to a crisis on top of a building. The third story is about World War II and a man's perception of the war and his experiences. The fourth story is about a husband and wife who are struggling with marriage conflicts. The wife believes her husband is cheating on her because he develops an extraordinary rash. The fifth story is about two boys who are in high school and are learning about baseball and true friendship. They develop a friendship that lasts a life time. The last story is about a man and his pregnant wife. They struggle with money and job issues, but somehow they learn to deal with their obstacles in life when approached by them.
The short stories all have similar aspects to them. Roth uses very descriptive diction to project a vivid image into the reader's mind and to create a romantic tone in the story. The stories are easy to follow and understand because of the use of straight forward word choice and descriptions of the characters. The reader may find that the stories are short and unfinished, but because of this, the reader is left with suspense and imagination.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Like Judy Blume's Forever but mean..., Feb. 24 2000
By 
Tim Lieder "Founder of Dybbuk Press" (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
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Ce commentaire est de: Goodbye, Columbus: and Five Short Stories (Paperback)
Reading this book I felt like I was reading Judy Blume's Forever but from the male perspective, in which that loser character from Forever gets to speak for himself and reveal just how much of a loser he really is.
Romance between working class Jew and Jewish American Princess and the tensions. My girlfriend told me that it reminded her of me in that the working class guy is constantly challenging and fighting with his girlfriend in order to cover up his own insecurities. Our relationship got better after that.
You don't really pay attention to the psychological aspect the first time because it's all about sex, when are they going to have sex, how often are they going to have sex, is she going to get birth control? And like i said before, the female character is not at all like the subdued Ali MacGraw in the movie. She's a harpy from the main characters perspective. When the story ends on a Portnoy's Complaint type note you are both laughing and sorrowful.
The other stories are ok. Not great. THey also follow the idea of Jewish assimilation and how it works and doesn't work for Jews. The one about the soldier that uses shared ethnicity as an excuse for getting out of work is good and The Conversion of the Jews is for anyone whose ever hated Hebrew School.
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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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