Book Review: The Dying Animal

by Philip Roth 2001 156 pages

Philip Roth eh.   Bugger knows how to tell a tale. And make you think.  Here a cultural critic (think Clive James meets Terry Eagleton) in New York recounts his obsessive love/lust for a much younger woman (yes, I know, the cliché police are about to arrest him) called Consuela.  Shot through with “politically incorrect” observations about lust, older men, ageing, loneliness, obsession etc.  Roth’s been here before (think The Ghost Writer and Portnoy’s Complaint. Not so much Our Gang, perhaps). 

I found myself reading slower and slower, because I did not want the experience to end.  Deeply moving.  And now I am almost certainly closer to grave than cradle, needs re-reading every so often.

In every calm and reasonable person there is a hidden second person scared witless about death, but for someone thirty-two, the time between Now and Then is ordinarily so vast, so boundless, that it’s no more than maybe a couple of times a year, and then only for a moment or two and late at night, that one comes anywhere near encountering that second person, and in the state of madness that is the second person’s everyday life.

Page 153-4


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