1 journaler for this copy...
I've only read one Philip Roth book before and remember really enjoying his writing style. Recently, I felt the need to explore more Roth, so I bought a couple of his books from half.com. this was my second Roth.
This is a set of short stories, the longest is novella length and the title story. It is about Brenda and Neil, young lovers who bicker a lot in northeast New Jersey. The title comes from when Brenda's brother, Ron (who has invited Neil into his room) and who is a recent graduate of Ohio State, listens to a vinyl recording of events of his senior year -- including highlights of his glory days on the football field. The recording ends with a graduation speaker lamenting "Goodbye, Columbus" and, by the transitive property, also to Ron's glory days. Ron is about to marry, perhaps more out of obligation to an impregnated girlfriend than due to true love and commitment, and also to join the family business where his blue collar father-boss is critical of the white collar education Ron received (4 years in college and can't even load a truck!)
I wasn't really sympathetic with either of the lead characters (I thought they were both pretty selfish and misguided), but it was an interesting exploration of class distinctions, even amongst people of relatively similar backgrounds. The book itself was also a little racist where it described Black Americans residing in Newark, but it is a product of the 1960s and should be viewed through this lens. Of course, the writing was excellent and kept me engaged. I would be interested in how the 1969 film starring Richard Benjamin addressed Brenda & Neil's relationship.
The rest of the stories were kind of Jewish angst that I could appreciate, but not really empathize with. Like the jewish kid that wouldn't (not) jump unless he got you to acknowledge the possibility of Jesus; or middle-aged worry-wort Lou Epstein who is just troubled by everything.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
I see from my remarks above that I was just getting into Roth when I read this nearly 20 years ago. He's become a favorite of mine since. This book doesn't match the rest of the collection (which are more recently published trade papers), as opposed to this 1976 edition mass market pb with the cup ring on the cover and someone else's pencil doodles inside.
I reread this on the plane on the way to the All Staff Meeting, expecting to release it. I got more out of it this time then I did in 2003, and paired my reading with the 1969 film and ans a recently composed internet critical analysis. I had a slightly different take on the penultimate scene that lead to the break up of our lovers, as I sympathized more with the woman being sexually bullied by her lover. I'm glad I revisited, but I won't be reading it again so it is time for this little guy to find a new home.
If you found this book and picked it up, I hope you enjoy it!