The Humbling Philip Roth

A long day’s journey into night. All life’s performances — talent, love, sex, hope, energy, reputation, memory and confidence — are stripped off as the protagonist walks offstage into a collosal collapse, a terrifying meltdown, into that “most unreal of all things”: suicide. The Humbling is the story of a retired actor struggling to summon the courage to pick up Chekhov’s gun and play the role of a man losing the motivation to live.

Following an unattractive takeoff, the book’s language is clear, condensed, contemporary prose. Not a word is wasted. But the plot has serious credibility flaws. Plot shifts pop up out of nowhere and then don’t go anywhere. Not among Roth’s best.

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