NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Monday, May 4, 2009


by Philip Roth

"The hero of Everyman is obsessed with mortality. As he reminds himself at one point 'I'm thirty-four! Worry about oblivion when you're seventy-five!' But he cannot help himself. He is the ex-husband in three marriages gone wrong. He is the father of two sons who detest him, despite a daughter who adores him. And as his health worsens, he is the envious brother of a much fitter man." (From the CD container.)

Need a little reminder that you're not going to live forever? I know forty-four isn't old in these modern times, but there are changes that make it clear I'm no longer exactly young. There's more gray in my hair than there was before. I'm noticing deeper lines and thinner skin. Those pounds I put on over winter don't come off as easily as they used to. My knees crackle when I walk down the stairs and it's harder for me to get up when I sit on the floor. More and more often I find myself a little jealous of the skinny little smooth-skinned twenty-somethings shopping at the mall. And I see changes not only in me, but in people around me. Parents and grandparents that I always thought of as unconquerable suddenly limited by health, friends losing hair (Remember -- We came of age in the era of "Hair Bands". This is a big deal to us!), their kids graduating from college, mild depression forming in people close to me who are suddenly realizing they are, in fact, mortal. All in all, it's quite disconcerting, and Everyman captures all the confusion and longing and, eventually, acceptance.

There is a bit too much sexual obsession in this story for me, though I believe that may be because it is told from a man's perspective. I think men are much more likely to tie the worth of their life and relationships to sex than are women. Many of them get past this, but it seems like that's where the fixation begins. I don't mean that to be nasty. It's just an observation regarding one of the many ways in which men and women think differently. And Peter said it was okay for me to write that because it's true. :-)


Gilion at Rose City Reader said...

I'm a big Philip Roth fan, but Everyman wasn't all that interesting to me. In fact, only after I was about halfway through your review did I realize I have read the book -- and only a few months ago!

Terri B. said...

Hmmm ... another book I have laying around here somewhere ... now what stack did I put it in ... hmmmm ... must be getting old.

Lezlie said...

Rose City Reader ~ I don't think this is one that will stick with me, but I'm glad I read it.

Terri ~ LOL! Now that it's been brought up, I don't remember forgetfulness being one of the aging issues he dealt with in here. I guess he was too worried about his other brain. :-)


Tasha said...

If the sexual obsession in this book was too much, then you might want to run far far away from Portnoy's Complaint!

Lezlie said...

Charley ~ Someone mentioned that before also. It may have been you! :-) I'm coming to the conclusion that one cannot avoid that in Roth's books. It may just be one of those things where I go into the read with an understanding that that aspect is there. He seems have a lot to offer in addition, so the books have totally been worth reading so far. He has a lot more for me to explore! Thanks for letting me know though. It's good to have that info up front. :-)


Andi said...

Totally right about the sex in Roth's books. It's pervasive and unavoidable, but like you I find so much other stuff worthwhile that I skip right over it. And often he's comical about it which I appreciate (whether he means to be or not). As I was reading this book I was reminded of another Roth work: The Dying Animal. It dealt with many of the same issues. Looking forward to Everyman when I get around to it!

Lezlie said...

Andi ~ Oh, good. It's not just me. :-) I've only read three of his, and I'm finishing up a fourth. I do like his writing a lot, so I'll probably handle it the same way. Breeze by the sex stuff to get to the good stuff! Don't people usually do that the other way around? What geeks we are! :-)