My dinner with Philip Roth

As word came over the transom last week (an actual transom, since I don’t have a working computer) that Philip Roth was retiring, I dismissed it as old, dull news. I’d read the report in the original French, and translated it myself into Turkish and then into Swiss-German just for fun. Then, along with the rest of the literate world, I’d read about it in the Times, which described Roth as a mentally healthy gentleman, happy with his lot.I knew he was putting on an act, because I’d already heard the opposite from the horse’s mouth. “The Horse” is what I’d called Roth when he and I shared an office space in the late 60s while he was working on Portnoy’s Complaint and I was working on a similar but superior work, Feldman’s Penis. Roth had earned his nickname because he ate a lot of apples and oats, and also because he loved to saddle up with the shiksas. No one knows a writer as well as his contemporaries. Roth and I are as contemporary as they get.One morning a few months ago, as I sat in my third-floor study in my chateau near the summit of Mount Winchester, my rotary phone rang downstairs. My beleaguered manservant Roger answered it, and came knocking at my door a minute later.Continue Reading…

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My dinner with Philip Roth

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