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  1. “In my opinion, Philip Roth is the Oliver Stone of fiction. We are drawn to him because he creates strong characters and has a knack for plots and situations that catch our interest. But he is hopelessly heavy-handed, single-minded and irritatingly consistent. He’s been writing the same story since the 1960s, showing no growth or maturity and never developing an interest in the world outside East Coast USA.”

    This is such a zesty explosion of Philistine catharsis that it’s hard not to chuckle (after suppressing the urge to vomit). The “same story” since the 1960s? Really? You mean because there’s always a *Jew* involved (like that old fraud Tolstoy and his tiresome fixation on Russians), I suppose.

    The novel truly read is a collaborative experience. Anyone who can’t read any difference between “The Counterlife” and “Sabbath’s Theater” and “The Ghost Writer” and “The Human Stain” and “Everyman” and “Patrimony” and “I Married A Communist” and “American Pastoral” and “Operation Shylock” and “The Anatomy Lesson” and “The Plot Against America”, et al, and, further, who can’t discern the inlaid beauties of language/precise recognition of humanity in all those pages … would be a disappointing partner for *any* writer’s serious effort.

    A writer need not be a reader’s cup of tea to deserve said reader’s respect; Mr. Henry James does not often curl my toes but I am capable, nevertheless, of honoring the overall achievement by refraining from claiming that his writing blows chunks. The problem with nuanced, fair-minded, ambiguity-rich (re)appraisals of canonical novelists is that they’re far less fun than shotgun-cocking takedowns.

    The righteous fallacy implicit in all this, of course, is that with Roth chopped down and out of the way, the space will be cleared for all those *real* geniuses to come pushing up through the shade-etiolated undergrowth.

    Wrong.

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