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The Anatomy Lesson, by Philip Roth
1983, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
DESCRIPTION: Written from 1979 to 2007, but with a narrative timeline that stretches all the way back to the 1950s, multiple award-winning author Philip Roth's eleven-book autobiographical "Nathan Zuckerman" series is one of the most remarkable achievements of the Postmodernist arts; not just a retelling of Roth's own life, as one of the ribald, funny Jewish artists of the 1960s and '70s like Woody Allen and Mel Brooks to make the religion suddenly hip and sexy in the eyes of countercultural Christian America, by extension it's also a story of American society in general from the 1960s through 2000s, since Roth as popular, Hollywood-friendly tastemaker had such a heavy influence on culture in those years overall. In this third book of the series, written in 1983 and set in the Ford/Carter mid-'70s, we find our hero in his forties, still obsessed over the ways his filthy, nebbishy funny early novel accidentally became an international sensation (Carnovsky in the fictionalized novel, Portnoy's Complaint in Roth's real life), and especially how its frank portrayal of the Jewish community has caused terrible tremors among his parents' Holocaust-surviving generation; but this is an older and sadder Zuckerman than in the first two books, dealing with death, aging, and a phantom back pain that has nearly crippled him when our book opens, the hunt for its cure providing the book both its plot backbone and a lot of its humor. Because this is a very funny book, make no mistake, as our swinging '70s Seinfeldian hero ends up self-medicating on vodka, weed and Percodan for the pain, cause of most of the absurdist adventures that Zuckerman ends up taking over the course of this laugh-out-loud, surprisingly tender manuscript. This is Roth really coming into his most mature voice for the first time, just a few years before novels like American Pastoral and The Human Stain that are the most well-known of his career, and no heavy fan will want to miss this moment where all of Roth's tricks started profoundly coming together for the first time. (BONUS: Read CCLaP's full review of this book!)
CONDITION: Text: Fine (F). In very similar condition to how it appeared new. Dust Jacket: Very Good Plus (VG+). Slight yellowing on the inside, one small tear along top edge, but otherwise in great shape.
PROVENANCE: Purchased by Jason Pettus on December 3rd, 2011, from Ravenswood Books in Chicago.