Friday, October 31, 2008

81. "Operation Shylock" - Philip Roth

To be blunt, I don't know what to do with Philip Roth.

He's self-effacing, he's charming, he's ego-centric, he's annoying. And that's just the author, Philip Roth.

In Operation Shylock, Philip Roth meets Philip Roth, a mirrored twin down to the part in his hair. The other Roth, called Moishe Popik ("Moses Bellybutton" - Jewish saying), wants to usher the Jews out of Israel and back to Europe, reversing the damage Hitler created during World War II.

Written as non-fiction but marketed as fiction (along with the standard, "any of this material in real life is coincidental"), Roth continues to state that it is actually non-fiction. He was there in Jerusalem, he was recruited by a Mossad operative, he wrote the book for them. Yet, Roth also states that he writes for the serious reader. I consider myself one of those, so I took the book with a tablespoon of salt and believe that Roth wrote this as part of a post-breakdown, post-Halcion addiction bender.

Should you read it? Again, I'm confused. Do you want to read 20 pages of ranting about the Holocaust? Then again, can you afford to miss a true education on the state of Jews (circa 1993, however)?

2.5 (split decision equals split in vote) out of 5.0 Great Pumpkin Patches.


Jason said...

While I feel this novel is a pretty good illustration of mental instability (self-doubt?) I was left much the way you were. The plot kind of derailed about the time Pipik left Jerusalem, I thought, and the Smilesburger finish didn't do much for me.

Kristin Dodge said...

I absolutely agree, but in reading Roth's interviews, he insists he had to include the end because he promised a real "Smilesburger." Propaganda for self-interest? I don't know... Roth reminds me of Chuck Barris.

Jason said...

In what context did he "promise" the Smilesburger shit? I don't get that. Bah. I guess I'm just a hack.