Book Review

Everyman by Phillip Roth (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)

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A quick read, easily accomplish able in a day, but I could not dismiss Everyman with the same ease I used while reading the novel.  The tragedy of this novel is the absolute lack of any significant occurrences or events in the main character’s life; his mediocre life allows us to ponder the impression or lack thereof we will leave on this world.  Roth makes a brave decision by allowing this book and its characters to simply exist, instead of imposing a conflict and resolution present in any typical novel.

I appreciated the lack of sentimentality in this novel as well.  Roth does not intend to offer inspirational words of encouragement in how we live and is not apologetic in suggesting our lives might be for null, despite our best efforts.  He is candid in narrating the events of this nameless character’s life, from his funeral, to his deteriorating health, to his failing marriage, but his simple language bears a lot of weight.  Through the rhythm and tone Roth creates in reflecting on the life of this extra ordinary man, the reader must consider:  am I so very different from this man that I pity him for the meaningless life he leads, or is his story so heart-wrenching because I share the same urgency to prove the importance of my existence?

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