Customer Reviews


16 Reviews
5 star:
 (8)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


5.0 out of 5 stars How does he do it?
What makes Roth so special? While so many other aging writers resort to rehashing older themes, descend into old fogey sentimentality, or simply fade away altogether, Roth only gets stronger. Stronger and more assured in his style and stronger in the subjects he tackles. "Operation Shylock" finds Roth once again challenging the reader's perceptions about fiction and...
Published on July 29 2003 by Daniel Fineberg

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars An Endless Classic
Amazing.... Philip Roth has pulled off the unthinkable. He writes a book with no ending and he gets away with it. He not only gets away with it, he does it with style. Boring at times, brilliant at others, this book works to a nerve racking frenzy, and then Roth cuts us loose. It's almost as if he gets writer's block right before the last chapter! But that remains...
Published on July 31 2000


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best book by Roth, but still worth recommending, June 17 2004
By 
Matthew Krichman (Durango, CO) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is the second Philip Roth book that I have read in which the author himself is a main character. In the other one, Patrimony, Roth came across as a humble, compassionate, good-natured human being. In this one, he comes across as an egomaniacal, paranoid, self-aggrandizing jerk. I've read more than a half dozen of his novels, and I consider him to be the best American writer alive today, so the bitter taste that I was left with after reading this book likely won't last long and won't tarnish my overall impression of him as a writer. But still, I have to wonder how much of the character of Roth in this book is fiction, and how much of it is true. Despite its pretense of being a true confession, this book is obviously a work of fiction, so one could conclude that the character of Roth is just that - a character and nothing more. But to dismiss without further exploration would be to oversimplify it. After all, this is Roth writing about Roth, and surely he made this a first-person account for a reason. Obviously he wanted to use this writer-as-character technique as a mechanism for conveying his personal opinions. And on top of that, he creates another character of the exact same name and similar in appearance to serve as a foil or alter ego. Neither character, unfortunately, comes across as sympathetic - one on purpose, but not the other. The Roth who narrates this book is cruel, selfish, self-centered, and immature. I lost count of how many times the character commented on his quest for the Nobel Prize - always in a facetious, backhanded sort of way to make it seem like it wasn't a big deal to him.
My other main criticism of this book - and I think I'm allowed to write this since one side of my family is Jewish - is that this book is too, um, Jewish. Roth is obviously known as an author who writes about the Jewish experience, so it's no surprise that this theme appears in yet another of his books. But here it's not just a theme - the whole book is about being Jewish. I have to wonder if that will limit the appeal of this book to a narrow audience. Even I found it tedious at times. I much preferred his other books in which the Jewish experience was one element of a much broader, deeper message.
That said, I still recommend this book. After all, it is Philip Roth, and his expert craftsmanship is evident throughout the novel. The humor that he is known for pops up every now and then as well, though not as much, perhaps, as in his other (better) books.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars How does he do it?, July 29 2003
By 
Daniel Fineberg (Northridge, California USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
What makes Roth so special? While so many other aging writers resort to rehashing older themes, descend into old fogey sentimentality, or simply fade away altogether, Roth only gets stronger. Stronger and more assured in his style and stronger in the subjects he tackles. "Operation Shylock" finds Roth once again challenging the reader's perceptions about fiction and non-fiction. The challenge lies in not letting the distinction distract you from the brilliant story that unfolds. Roth is on top of his game in every respect, from the cat and mouse games of the various "Philip Roths" to the wonderfully varied supporting cast of characters. Roth's narration, like Zuckerman's in recent years, is an orgy of hilarious speculation and theorizing...trying to work out every possible thread of a situation, the processes of a hyperactive mind laid out before the reader. If you don't like it, then you don't like it, and you probably don't like Roth. If you haven't read him before, and the basic plot interests you, this may be a good place to start. "American Pastoral" was great, "The Human Stain" even better, but I feel "Operation Shylock" ranks with "The Counterlife" as his best work. Very highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing, Brilliant, Complex, Riveting, Shivery, March 18 2002
By 
Rosemary Bannon Tyksinski "www.rosemarys-offi... (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I loved this book! Perhaps, I award it five stars because I "read" the audio version. I imagine it could be a tedious read. However, I listened to Operation Shylock while commuting to work--I shivered at its brilliance, gasped aloud each time I reached my destination and had to turn it off. As one whose profession it is to sort through the psychological complexities of neurosis, psychosis, the shifting perceptions and altered realities of the mentally ill, I found the minds of the twin Philip Roth's as facinating as any patient I've ever had the honor to follow into the dark abyss of self-doubt, creativity, confusion, and triumph. This is one of those rare books I will read again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Ingenious!, March 7 2002
By 
Steve (Massachusetts) - See all my reviews
Roth is the undefeated (probably undefeatable) champion of literary experimentation, and Operation Shylock is perhaps his most successful, most outrageous experiment to date. The author-as-character, fact-as-fiction-as-fact motif has been done before, but rarely with such skill and never with such hilarious results. It's part international espionage, part political commentary, part cultural exposition, part farce, and all parody; Roth's egotistical, though often self-depracating voice keeps the story chugging powerfully along. Par usual, Roth's greatest zinger of all is saved for the last few pages. I would award Shylock five stars, if it were not for the fact that I simply can't (and never have been able to) get used to his hyperbolic style--all the ranting and raving and melodrama can occasionally be tiresome. But one doesn't normally read Roth for his elegant prose; one reads him for his ingenuity, his outrageousness, and his courage. And in this regard, Shylock certainly will not disappoint.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars For patient readers, the payoff is profound, May 20 2001
By A Customer
Exploring every conceivable aspect of identity -- of the self, and of the state of Israel -- this novel is a tour de force. I couldn't find Roth's "The Human Stain" after hearing an NPR review, so I picked up "Operation Shylock" instead; it's my first reading of Roth. I'd agree with others' descriptions of some slow or complex passages, but over time I came to view these as almost purposely placed: Roth toying with his own medium as he dances across the fiction/non-fiction line. Comparing this novel with other recent semi-autobiographical works -- like Paul Theroux's "My Other Life" -- I found "Operation Shylock" stayed with me longer and addressed deeper themes. Possibly not the best _introduction_ to Roth, "Operation Shylock" is still extremely funny and extremely intelligent, with an ending that sent me reeling.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Two Philip Roths for the price of one book, Aug. 28 2000
By 
Philip Roth's novel "Operation Shylock" presents a two-sided controversial discussion about the justification of the existence of the state of Israel. The protagonist is Roth himself, who has just overcome a period of Halcion-induced depression and is preparing to fly to Israel on a journalistic assignment to interview a Holocaust-surviving author. Coinciding with this event is the trial of John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian American citizen extradited to Israel, who is alleged to have been a sadistic SS guard branded Ivan the Terrible at the Treblinka death camp during World War II.
Just before making his trip, Roth hears that somebody in Israel is using his name to promote a new Diaspora, imploring the Ashkenazi Jews to return to Europe to reclaim their cultural heritage. Once in Israel, it's not long before he encounters his impersonator after attending a session of Demjanjuk's trial. The impersonator tells Roth that he is a private detective from Chicago and that he runs a counseling service to "cure" anti-Semites, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous in its purpose. Accompanying him in Israel is his girlfriend and a former anti-Semite, a confused American woman with a checkered past, who was his nurse when he was a cancer patient.
Roth's impersonator sees himself as the influential equal and ideological opposite of Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism. He advocates Diasporism because he fears that the state of Israel is perceived by the world as Jewish tyranny over Arabs and will lead to a second Holocaust. How the real Roth reacts to this premise develops the rest of the novel, which, as the title implies, shapes itself into a subtle spy story. Some interesting supporting characters are introduced to contribute to the debate and clever plot devices are employed for intrigue.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars An Endless Classic, July 31 2000
By A Customer
Amazing.... Philip Roth has pulled off the unthinkable. He writes a book with no ending and he gets away with it. He not only gets away with it, he does it with style. Boring at times, brilliant at others, this book works to a nerve racking frenzy, and then Roth cuts us loose. It's almost as if he gets writer's block right before the last chapter! But that remains the beauty of this work. The use of "fact or fiction ?" is what guides us through to the end only to take a twist that will send you silly. Highly effective.....that is if you can get through the lecture-like portions. If only this book was trimmed by about 75 pages or so. It's dragging portions is what drags my rating down to three stars
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Good, Not Great, July 1 2000
By 
Nab8la (Lawrence, Kansas) - See all my reviews
Another good effort from Roth, but not his best by any means. The narrative technique is, like many of Roth's novels, clever and well executed. However, it also closely resembles a few of his other novels and leaves one appreciating his skill rather than simply enjoying the work. I can't recommend this to anyone who doesn't want to read a great deal about Zionism and Diasporism. It's a didactic, rather than a novelistic, book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars Over-rated/Insipid/Boring, Nov. 13 1999
By A Customer
Philip roth has been touted as a great writer.I must admit, i was curious and bought this book in an effort to validate what others say.However, i must say that OPERATION SHYLOCK is one hell of a boring bland slow-paced book. Sure, the occasional paragraphs on religion did interest me slightly but the story sucks and the prose did not possess one ounce of magnetism.Trust me, mail me the $ if you have to, but don't waste it here.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars Boring. The plot plods along., Nov. 9 1999
By A Customer
Boring, slow moving plot. Too much discussion of the Jewish Diaspora, Zionism, and Demjanjuk. I couldn't finish this book fast enough.
Read "Goodbye, Columbus" or "Portnoy's Complaint" instead. Both are funnier and flow better than "Shylock".
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First
ARRAY(0xb48e79fc)

This product

Operation Shylock: A Confession
Operation Shylock: A Confession by Philip Roth (Audio Cassette - April 1993)
CDN$ 55.25
Not in stock; order now and we'll deliver when available
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews