It’s hard to recommend to you that you run out and buy Everyman, a 250 page rumination on death, especially since you could also read Roth’s The Dying Animal, another 250 page rumination on death that at least has the added benefit of having some hot and (dare I say) perverse sex scenes. Whereas Animal has humor and an obnoxious narrator you love to hate, Everyman is just plain depressing. We get sketches of a man’s life and his relationship to death — early encounters, childhood sickness, the death of his parents, death of friends and finally his own deterioration. Roth is known for his humor – his humor is perhaps the key element that has me coming back to him over and over – but I don’t really remember laughing too much with this one. I remember sighing and going “oy vey.”
Writers, though, will be impressed. His ability to tease out whole characters with a line fragments is something of a miracle. One quick description of his father’s watch shop and you instantly understand his whole childhood. It’s stunning in its simplicity. So, I suppose, there’s your recommendation right there.