NEMESIS by Philip Roth

“Tender” and “noble” are two words I have never used to describe a Roth character. In fact, Roth’s usual suspects are razor sharp with a mean streak of self-loathing to befit the most unlikable anti-heroes of the American literary canon. Not to mention, most of his characters are so self-obsessed and entrenched in complicated sexual proclivities that they seldom do the right thing. And much to the chagrin of my feminist friends, I’m amused, if not seduced, by these delinquent male protagonists, and look forward to their self-deprecating demise each and every time I encounter them.

Which is precisely why my love for Eugene “Bucky” Cantor bemuses me in a way I can’t describe. Cantor, the leading man in Roth’s latest novel NEMESIS, is so decent, so likable in a non-Rothian way, that if you’re a stalwart fan of Alexander Portnoy or David Kepesh, two of the most deliciously depraved characters to ever grace Roth’s fiction, then Bucky Cantor materializes like Mother Theresa. And yet never before have I ached for such a character – identified with such a man whose nobility and innocence would have previously escaped me.

October 16, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
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