Saturday, February 11, 2006

There Once Was This Photographer From New York ...

Nice piece published in The Australian today on Philip Roth. It heads the cover page of their 'Review' section with a wonderful title - 'The Gripes of Roth'.

Roth on: Smiling
"Why don't you smile?" I ask.
"There once was this photographer from New York. 'Smile,' she always said. 'Smile!' I couldn't stand her or the whole phenomenon. Why smile into a camera? It makes no human sense. So I got rid of both her and the smile."
"Do you ever smile at all?"
He looks at me. "Yes, when I'm hiding in a corner and no one sees it."

Roth on: Death
"The classic is called Everyman; it's from 1485, by an anonymous author. It was right in between the death of Chaucer and the birth of Shakespeare. The moral was always 'Work hard and get into heaven', 'Be a good Christian or go to hell'.
"Everyman is the main character and he gets a visit from Death. He thinks its some sort of messenger; but Death says, 'I am Death' and Everyman's answer is the first great line in English drama: 'Oh, Death, thou comest when I had thee least in miond.'
"When I thought of you least. My new book is about death and about dying. Well, what do you think?"

Roth on: Sex
"You know, passion doesn't change with age, but you change, you become older. The thirst for women becomes more poignant.
And there is a power in the pathos of sex that it didn't have before. The pathos of the female body becomes more insistent."

And finally:

Roth on: Literature
"I would be wonderful with a 100-year moratorium on literature talk. If you shut down all the literature departments, close the book reviews, ban the critics.
The readers should be alone with the books, and if anyone dared to say anything about them, they would be shot or imprisoned right on the spot. Yes, shot. "

He has such an optimistic, life-affirming philosophy, doesn't he?


At 10:04 PM, Blogger Caz said...

I have to agree with much of this, most especially his views on "literature talk".

Oh, that would mean the end of this blog, yes? Hmm, I see.

There is nothing pessimistic or life-denying about his comments, just a pragmatic and honest expression of his thoughts. This is bad, because?

At 1:22 PM, Blogger TimT said...

Not bad, all good. He's very funny. He makes a good point about literature criticism, and I would agree with him, except that I enjoy it so much. I even get something out of badly written reviews - I don't know, I just find it satisfying to read other people's opinions on books, as well as the books themselves.


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