Philip Roth: “Enough is Enough”

Salon reports this morning that Philip Roth is retiring.

Via David Daley at Salon:

In an interview with a French publication called Les inRocks last month — which does not appear to have been reported in the United States — Roth, 78, said he has not written anything new in the last three years, and that he will not write another novel.

Roth said that at 74, realizing he was running out of years, he reread all his favorite novels, and then reread all his books in reverse chronological order. “I wanted to see if I had wasted my time writing,” he said. “And I thought it was rather successful. At the end of his life, the boxer Joe Louis said: “I did the best I could with what I had.” This is exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had.

I went back and started rereading his interview with The Paris Review (The Art of Fiction #84), and as always with their interviews, there’s some fascinating discussion. Particularly his response when the interviewer asks him: “What do you feel about feminism, particularly the feminist attack on you?” Roth becomes instantly defensive and adopts a certain get-off-my-lawn-you-damn-kids tone that I find pretty revealing. It’s worth taking a look at– and please, let me know what you think.

This sums up Roth, for me:

INTERVIEWER: Do you have a Roth reader in mind when you write?

ROTH: No. I occasionally have an anti-Roth reader in mind. I think, “How he is going to hate this!” That can be just the encouragement I need.

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