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Summary

Summary

It is 1951 in America, the second year of the Korean War. A studious, law-abiding, intense youngster from Newark, New Jersey, Marcus Messner, is beginning his sophomore year on the pastoral, conservative campus of Ohio s Winesburg College. And why is he there and not at a local college in Newark where he originally enrolled? Because his father, the sturdy, hard-working neighborhood butcher, seems to have gone mad mad with fear and apprehension of the dangers of adult life, the dangers of the world, the dangers he sees in every corner for his beloved boy. As the long-suffering, desperately harassed mother tells her son, the father s fear arises from love and pride. Perhaps, but it produces too much anger in Marcus for him to endure living with his parents any longer. He leaves them and, far from Newark, in the midwestern college, has to find his way amid the customs and constrictions of another American world. Indignation, Philip Roth s twenty-ninth book, tells the story of the young man s education in life s terrifying chances and bizarre obstructions. It is a story of inexperience, foolishness, intellectual resistance, sexual discovery, courage, and error. It is a story told with all the inventive energy and wit Roth has at his command, at once a startling departure from the haunted narratives of old age and experience in his recent books and a powerful addition to his investigations of the impact of American history on the life of the vulnerable individual."


Author Notes

Philip Roth was born in Newark, New Jersey on March 19, 1933. He attended Rutgers University for one year before transferring to Bucknell University where he completed a B.A. in English with highest honors. He received an M.A. from the University of Chicago in 1955 and taught there briefly.

His first book, Goodbye, Columbus, received the National Book Award in 1960. His other books include Letting Go, When She Was Good, Portnoy's Complaint, Our Gang, My Life as a Man, The Ghostwriter, Zuckerman Unbound, The Anatomy Lesson, Deception, Nemesis, and Indignation. He won National Book Critic Circle Awards in 1987 for his novel The Counterlife and again in 1992 for his memoir Patrimony: A True Story. He won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 1993 for Operation Shylock: A Confession, the National Book Award in 1995 for Sabbath's Theater, and the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for American Pastoral.

(Bowker Author Biography) Philip Roth's work has been acclaimed around the world. His most recent novels are "The Human Stain", published by Houghton Mifflin in 2000; "I Married a Communist" (1999), winner of the Ambassador Award of the English-Speaking Union; "American Pastoral" (1997), winner of the Pulitzer Prize in fiction; & "Sabbath's Theater" (1995), winner of the National Book Award. Previous award-winning works include "Patrimony" (1991), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; "Operation Shylock" (1993), winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award; "The Counterlife" (1986), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; & "Goodbye, Columbus" (1959), his first book, winner of the National Book Award. In 1998 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

(Publisher Provided)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In Roth's provocative new novel (his twenty-ninth book) which, in a quieter, more personal fashion, is as provocative as his astonishing Plot against America (2004) the setting and the main character are plucked from traditional Roth country: a nice Jewish boy living in Newark in the early 1950s, the son of a kosher butcher. The Korean War rages halfway around the word, but Marcus Messner, conscious though he is of the war and his possible forced participation in it, has a more fundamental concern: staying away from his father, to whom he is extremely close but who has recently become neurotically overprotective. Marcus had been attending a local Newark college, but his father's new craziness over safety compelled him to transfer to bucolic Winesburg College in Ohio, in a conservative Midwest that is foreign country to Marcus. He continues to earn good grades, but the rest of Winesburg life has him befuddled. Not so much because he's Jewish but because he's a free thinker, he wonders, Why do I have to attend chapel? Why should he have to put up with inordinately noisy roommates? And how to fathom the strange but perversely alluring psychological dimensions of the unbalanced girl he's interested in? During this time, male college students walk a tightrope: flunk out of school or be expelled for any reason, and the draft will snap you up. Read this fast-paced, compassionate, humorous, historically conscious novel to learn what that means for Marcus.--Hooper, Brad Copyright 2008 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Roth's brilliant and disconcerting new novel plumbs the depths of the early Cold War-era male libido, burdened as it is with sexual myths and a consciousness overloaded with vivid images of impending death, either by the bomb or in Korea. At least this is the way things appear to narrator Marcus Messner, the 19-year-old son of a Newark kosher butcher. Perhaps because Marcus's dad saw his two brothers' only sons die in WWII, he becomes an overprotective paranoid when Marcus turns 18, prompting Marcus to flee to Winesburg College in Ohio. Though the distance helps, Marcus, too, is haunted by the idea that flunking out of college means going to Korea. His first date in Winesburg is with doctor's daughter Olivia Hutton, who would appear to embody the beautiful normality Marcus seeks, but, instead, she destroys Marcus's sense of normal by surprising him after dinner with her carnal prowess. Slightly unhinged by this stroke of fortune, he at first shuns her, then pesters her with letters and finally has a brief but nonpenetrative affair with her. Olivia, he discovers, is psychologically fragile and bears scars from a suicide attempt--a mark Marcus's mother zeroes in on when she meets the girl for the first and last time. Between promising his mother to drop her and longing for her, Marcus goes through a common enough existential crisis, exacerbated by run-ins with the school administration over trivial matters that quickly become more serious. All the while, the reader is aware of something awful awaiting Marcus, due to a piece of information casually dropped about a third of the way in: "And even dead, as I am and have been for I don't know how long..." The terrible sadness of Marcus's life is rendered palpable by Roth's fierce grasp on the psychology of this butcher's boy, down to his bought-for-Winesburg wardrobe. It's a melancholy triumph and a cogent reflection on society in a time of war. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Marcus Messner's father is so anxious about the well--being of his darling son that Marcus is compelled to flee 1950s Newark, NJ, and attend college in a place that seems truly foreign--Ohio. With a national laydown on September 16. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

"Under Morphine" About two and a half months after the well-trained divisions of North Korea, armed by the Soviets and Chinese Communists, crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea on June 25, 1950, and the agonies of the Korean War began, I entered Robert Treat, a small college in downtown Newark named for the city's seventeenth-century founder. I was the first member of our family to seek a higher education. None of my cousins had gone beyond high school, and neither my father nor his three brothers had finished elementary school. "I worked for money," my father told me, "since I was ten years old." He was a neighborhood butcher for whom I'd delivered orders on my bicycle all through high school, except during baseball season and on the afternoons when I had to attend interschool matches as a member of the debating team. Almost from the day that I left the store-where I'd been working sixty-hour weeks for him between the time of my high school graduation in January and the start of college in September-almost from the day that I began classes at Robert Treat, my father became frightened that I would die. Maybe his fear had something to do with the war, which the U.S. armed forces, under United Nations auspices, had immediately entered to bolster the efforts of the ill-trained and under-equipped South Korean army; maybe it had something to do with the heavy casualties our troops were sustaining against the Communist firepower and his fear that if the conflict dragged on as long as World War Two had, I would be drafted into the army to fight and die on the Korean battlefield as my cousins Abe and Dave had died during World War Two. Or maybe the fear had to do with his financial worries: the year before, the neighborhood's first supermarket had opened only a few blocks from our family's kosher butcher shop, and sales had begun steadily falling off, in part because of the supermarket's meat and poultry section's undercutting my father's prices and in part because of a general postwar decline in the number of families bothering to maintain kosher households and to buy kosher meat and chickens from a rabbinically certified shop whose owner was a member of the Federation of Kosher Butchers of New Jersey. Or maybe his fear for me began in fear for himself, for at the age of fifty, after enjoying a lifetime of robust good health, this sturdy little man began to develop the persistent racking cough that, troubling as it was to my mother, did not stop him from keeping a lit cigarette in the corner of his mouth all day long. Whatever the cause or mix of causes fueling the abrupt change in his previously benign paternal behavior, he manifested his fear by hounding me day and night about my whereabouts. Where were you? Why weren't you home? How do I know where you are when you go out? You are a boy with a magnificent future before you-how do I know you're not going to places where you can get yourself killed? Excerpted from Indignation by Philip Roth All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.


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