Murakami Sale
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Original Essays | August 18, 2014

Ian Leslie: IMG Empathic Curiosity



Today, we wonder anxiously if digital media is changing our brains. But if there's any time in history when our mental operations changed... Continue »
  1. $18.89 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$15.00
New Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Available for In-store Pickup
in 7 to 12 days
Qty Store Section
11 Remote Warehouse Literature- A to Z
9 Remote Warehouse Literature- A to Z

More copies of this ISBN

This title in other editions

The Counterlife

by

The Counterlife Cover

ISBN13: 9780679749042
ISBN10: 0679749047
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Counterlife is about people enacting their dreams of renewal and escape, some of them going so far as to risk their lives to alter seemingly irreversible destinies. Wherever they may find themselves, the characters of The Counterlife are tempted unceasingly by the prospect of an alternative existence that can reverse their fate.

"No other writer combines such a surface of colloquial relaxation and even dishevelment with such a dense load of mediating intelligence....Roth has never written more scrupulously or, in spots, more lovingly." John Updike, The New Yorker

Review:

"The Counterlife is a frustrating book, and an especially disappointing one for admirers of The Ghost Writer....But if structural miscalculations and floundering impulses make The Counterlife a much less absorbing novel than it might have been, its feverish imaginings are proof that the main quest of Roth's career thus far — the exploration of the self through a fictional alter ego — continues to yield powerful, disturbing material. Even when Roth goes astray, he never seems out of touch with his talent....And if Roth and Zuckerman can sometimes be exasperating company as they pursue the idea of autobiographical fiction to its furthest limits, the partnership is often unnerving and grimly fascinating — and even, oddly, gallant." Josh Rubins, The New York Review of Books

Review:

"[This novel] is mostly about Israel, erections, and writing fiction. In this it resembles much of the author's post-Portnoy fiction....The novel as a whole is a performance to cap performances, a defiant roundup and topping-up of the hangups and obsessions that wearisome critics like the undersigned have been gently suggesting Roth has perhaps sufficiently exploited....Do we dare hope it will be Zuckerman's last ride?...Having now pushed confessional fiction into meta-fiction, Roth might trust himself as a simple realist....I wish I had liked the ending better. It seemed inflated and coyly Pirandellian....That a narrator so scornful of church and synagogue ends by praising ritual mutilation is a strange twist, in a tale of strange twists." John Updike, The New Yorker

Review:

"The Counterlife, it seems to me, constitutes a fulfillment of tendencies, a successful integration of themes, and the final working through of obsessions that have previously troubled if not marred [the author's] work. I hope it felt, as Mr. Roth wrote it, like a triumph, because that is certainly how it reads to me....Sexual expression, phallic power, oral fixation: each is present. Family oppression, and familial duties: these too. But above all, there is the presence of the question of what it means to be a Jew. Nevertheless, everything has changed after all. These themes no longer possess our author. He has become their master." William H. Gass, The New York Times Book Review

Synopsis:

The Counterlife is about people enacting their dreams of renewal and escape, some of them going so far as to risk their lives to alter seemingly irreversible destinies. Wherever they may find themselves, the characters of The Counterlife are tempted unceasingly by the prospect of an alternative existence that can reverse their fate.

Illuminating these lives in transition and guiding us through the book's evocative landscapes, familiar and foreign, is the miind of the novelist Nathan Zuckerman. His is the skeptical, enveloping intelligence that calculates the price that's paid in the struggle to change personal fortune and reshape history, whether in a dentist's office in suburban New Jersey, or in a tradition-bound English Village in Gloucestershire, or in a church in London's West End, or in a tiny desert settlement in Israel's occupied West Bank.

About the Author

In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and in 2002 the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction. He has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. In 2005 The Plot Against America received the Society of American Historians’ Prize for “the outstanding historical novel on an American theme for 2003-2004.” Recently Roth received PEN’s two most prestigious awards: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award and in 2007 the PEN/Bellow Award for achievement in American fiction. Roth is the only living American novelist to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. In 2011 he received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, and was later named the fourth recipient of the Man Booker International Prize.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

OneMansView, February 5, 2011 (view all comments by OneMansView)
An intelligent human being: a large-scale producer of misunderstanding

In this amazing, provocative novel – with five interconnected chapters of varying fictive purpose - there is scarcely any aspect of Jewish life, whether at the level of individual, family, or broader society, which goes unexamined by renowned writer, Nathan Zuckerman (Roth’s alter ego). Having exposed the ridiculousness of his childhood family in his acclaimed, hurtful book, CARNOVSKY, thus, acquiring a reputation as a biting social critic, Nathan, in frank, often acerbic, letters, reminiscences, and long conversations, challenges comforting illusions in many areas and concerns of life, such as marriage, fidelity, potency, religion, Jewish authenticity, discrimination, etc, including the underlying attitudes and beliefs. Ultimately, it is how one is situated in those facets of life, as perceived by self and others, that supplies the basis of one’s identity. However, for the characters in this book, identity is not a given; in fact, they suggest the difficulty of establishing an unquestioned, coherent, resilient identity.

Little is sacred to Nathan is his quest to expose life’s fictions. In fact, in the first three chapters of the book Nathan examines the supposed obsessions and excesses in Henry’s, his younger brother, life. First, Henry is seen agonizing over an operation with life-threatening possibilities to restore potency, though hardly to improve his marriage. Next, Henry abruptly joins an obscure settlement in Israel established by a radical Jewish element, having suddenly decided that his former life was superficial - inauthentic. However, in chapter four, Gloucestershire, it turns out that Nathan is actually the brother who has had bypass surgery. Henry goes through Nathan’s papers to discover that his older brother has ever intention of misrepresenting him, disparagingly so, as a person with ridiculous identity issues in Nathan’s next book. Interestingly enough, those notes appear as the first chapters of this book – fiction within fiction!

Chapter five, Christendom, finds Nathan, having married pleasant, sharp, younger, upper-class Maria, is convinced that his very being is under assault as it turns out that Maria’s mother and older sister either harbor or express anti-Semitism. His defensive, non-religious urbanity is thinner than he realized. Maria is not particularly sensitive to Nathan’s concerns, finding his reactions to be a failure to accept reality at the risk of jeopardizing their marriage. The doubts and dilemmas of the fictional Henry suddenly do not seem so ridiculous; perhaps one’s choices have constraints that come to the surface only at certain stressful times in life.

A curious aspect of the book is the constant criticism that Nathan (Roth) gets from those whose motives or passions he questions. He, as an isolated writer, is accused of failing to grasp unpleasant, harsh, and changing reality, preferring to excoriate those who have to deal with the world as it is presented to them, and holding to a purist, idealistic view of life that is both arrogant and irrelevant. There is little response. Additionally, the author is hardly unaware of the comedic and absurd aspects of man’s foibles. How zany can you get: the young religious fanatic who hunts down Nathan at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and pretends to be an outfielder catching a ball against the wall. The phallic-centric Roth is on full display in the interview scene between Henry and his new dental assistant.

Practically every page of this book is pregnant with perceptive comments, descriptions, ideas, etc. Despite weighty matters, the writing is eminently understandable, precise, sarcastic, and, for the most part, keeps the story going. Final answers are in short supply, however. According to Nathan after his last “stupid” argument with Maria,

“Life ‘is’ and: the accidental and the immutable, the elusive and the graspable, the bizarre and the predictable, the actual and the potential, and the multiplying realities, entangled, overlapping, colliding, conjoined – plus the multiplying illusions! … Is an intelligent human being likely to be much more than a large-scale manufacturer of misunderstanding?”

While there are no hard and fast answers, the book is not without its view. Sex is a powerful instigator in life; decisions based on sex can be ridiculous. More important to the author are the far greater consequences and meaning involved in fanatical religious perspectives, on the one hand, but also in the dehumanizing of those of a different religious experience. In addition, superior, dismissive, know-it-all approaches to one’s own life or towards other will invariably come up short. While this book is not without a certain amount of ambiguity and complexity, it is so amazingly intelligent, thought provoking, and entertaining, that it must be read.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
geoff.wichert, November 7, 2010 (view all comments by geoff.wichert)
I hesitate to call anonymous critics anti-Semitic, although in the case of the very Christian Updike, anonymity is not a problem. But Roth, by pursuing his experience as a Jew in a supposedly prejudice-free country, has delved into universal themes through specific experience in a way that few American writers have done, and the unwillingness of some readers to follow him is far more exhausting to read about at this point than anything he writes. For one thing, Roth is still the most extraordinary and exquisite prose writer in English today. This book, which I nearly quit reading early on, but am grateful now that I stuck with, contains paragraphs of language written at full passion, emotionally and intellectually, that constitute deep water that I suppose we must forgive Updike et al. for finding too daunting to swim into.
In The Counterlife Roth takes on those readers who cannot read fiction without coming to believe that it is autobiography with the names changed. He swaps the same events around several ways, five times total, and lets each fictional character have a go at narrating and responding. What emerges from this is not a single story, or even a single, Roshomon-like non-story, but a close look at the reality of fiction, including how even if he SHOWS us the machinery behind the cape and top hat, we may still end up choosing to believe the magician. It's a magnificent gift for an artist to give to his readers, some of whom have already chosen to reject it as too unconventional and challenging. For me, tired of gimmicky attempts to make new fiction, this worked. I was moved deeply by the sheer beauty that emerged finally from the abuse, buffeting, pain, and outrage of what came before.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780679749042
Author:
Roth, Philip
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Literature
Subject:
American fiction (fictional works by one author)
Subject:
Self-actualization (psychology)
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Novelists, American
Subject:
Self-actualization
Subject:
Novelists, American -- Fiction.
Subject:
Zuckerman, Nathan
Subject:
American fiction (fictional works by one auth
Subject:
Novelists -- Fiction.
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage International
Series Volume:
104-96
Publication Date:
19960831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
8 x 5.12 x 0.7 in 0.5 lb

Other books you might like

  1. A Lesson Before Dying (Vintage...
    Used Trade Paper $2.95
  2. Mating
    Used Trade Paper $3.50
  3. Kate Vaiden Used Trade Paper $2.95
  4. Flesh and Blood Used Trade Paper $4.50
  5. The Known World
    Used Trade Paper $5.50
  6. The Blue Flower
    Used Trade Paper $2.95

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

The Counterlife New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.00 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Vintage Books - English 9780679749042 Reviews:
"Review" by , "The Counterlife is a frustrating book, and an especially disappointing one for admirers of The Ghost Writer....But if structural miscalculations and floundering impulses make The Counterlife a much less absorbing novel than it might have been, its feverish imaginings are proof that the main quest of Roth's career thus far — the exploration of the self through a fictional alter ego — continues to yield powerful, disturbing material. Even when Roth goes astray, he never seems out of touch with his talent....And if Roth and Zuckerman can sometimes be exasperating company as they pursue the idea of autobiographical fiction to its furthest limits, the partnership is often unnerving and grimly fascinating — and even, oddly, gallant."
"Review" by , "[This novel] is mostly about Israel, erections, and writing fiction. In this it resembles much of the author's post-Portnoy fiction....The novel as a whole is a performance to cap performances, a defiant roundup and topping-up of the hangups and obsessions that wearisome critics like the undersigned have been gently suggesting Roth has perhaps sufficiently exploited....Do we dare hope it will be Zuckerman's last ride?...Having now pushed confessional fiction into meta-fiction, Roth might trust himself as a simple realist....I wish I had liked the ending better. It seemed inflated and coyly Pirandellian....That a narrator so scornful of church and synagogue ends by praising ritual mutilation is a strange twist, in a tale of strange twists."
"Review" by , "The Counterlife, it seems to me, constitutes a fulfillment of tendencies, a successful integration of themes, and the final working through of obsessions that have previously troubled if not marred [the author's] work. I hope it felt, as Mr. Roth wrote it, like a triumph, because that is certainly how it reads to me....Sexual expression, phallic power, oral fixation: each is present. Family oppression, and familial duties: these too. But above all, there is the presence of the question of what it means to be a Jew. Nevertheless, everything has changed after all. These themes no longer possess our author. He has become their master."
"Synopsis" by , The Counterlife is about people enacting their dreams of renewal and escape, some of them going so far as to risk their lives to alter seemingly irreversible destinies. Wherever they may find themselves, the characters of The Counterlife are tempted unceasingly by the prospect of an alternative existence that can reverse their fate.

Illuminating these lives in transition and guiding us through the book's evocative landscapes, familiar and foreign, is the miind of the novelist Nathan Zuckerman. His is the skeptical, enveloping intelligence that calculates the price that's paid in the struggle to change personal fortune and reshape history, whether in a dentist's office in suburban New Jersey, or in a tradition-bound English Village in Gloucestershire, or in a church in London's West End, or in a tiny desert settlement in Israel's occupied West Bank.

spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.