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Portnoy's Complaint ❰PDF / Epub❯ ☁ Portnoy's Complaint Author Philip Roth – Thomashillier.co.uk Portnoy's Complaint is the famously outrageous confession made to his analyst by Alexander Portnoy the Huck Finn of Newark who is trust thru life by his unappeasable sexuality yet held back at the sam Portnoy's Complaint is the famously outrageous confession made to his analyst by Alexander Portnoy the Huck Finn of Newark who is trust thru life by his unappeasable sexuality yet held back at the same time by the iron grip of his unforgettable childhood Decades after it was st published.


About the Author: Philip Roth

Philip Milton Roth was an American novelist He gained early literary fame with the collection Goodbye Columbus winner of 's National Book Award cemented it with his bestseller Portnoy's Complaint and has continued to write critically acclaimed works many of which feature his fictional alter ego Nathan Zuckerman The Zuckerman novels began with The Ghost Writer in and in.



10 thoughts on “Portnoy's Complaint

  1. Glenn Sumi Glenn Sumi says:

    Updated May 22 2018 RIP Philip Roth Author of some of the defining works of the late 20th century and even some of the early 21st What a magnificent second act you had and what a legacy you leave behind 21 Random Thoughts After Reading Philip Roth’s Classic Portnoy’s Complaint 46 Years After Its Controversial Publication1 I’ve read three or four Philip Roth books but how have I never read this which catapulted him to literary fame – or at least notoriety and celebrity – in the late 60s? Everyone's read it Even Don Draper2 The young Roth sure was funny We're talking laugh out loud text your best friends favourite lines nearly pee your pants funny3 The guy was also rude and crude and hmmm okay maybe I shouldn’t text that um where were we? Yes he was rude and crude shocking even by today’s standardsThen again4 It’s not really Roth saying these wild things but a fictional character – namely Alexander Portnoy a 30 something Jewish civil liberties attorney who’s got one big fat mother complex Incidentally Roth was born the same year 1933 and in the same city Newark NJ as his protagonist But they're not the same guy got it? Also5 In a brilliant structural device the book is essentially Alex’s extended monologue to his psychotherapist with Alex trying to find out why he’s so screwed up His rant includes recounting his extreme sexual fantasies and fetishes memories of chronic childhood masturbation habits and how he feels his persistent bachelorhood he’s in his 30s and not married and likes shiksas is tied to his ambivalent relationship with his castrating mother So we wouldn’t want to censor or harshly judge a fictional Jewish character’s scabrous stream of consciousness right? Two words folks Leopold Bloom6 Oy gevalt Fictional guilt inducing Jewish mothers seem a lot like guilt inducing Asian mothers7 Back then it must have been a really big deal to be in your 30s and unmarried8 Just when you think “Oedipus complex” RothPortnoy mentions Oedipus9 Woody Allen who was doing stand up at the time must have been influenced by this book not just in the artist talking to therapist scenes but in the Jew goes to WASP girlfriend's home for Thanksgiving scene in Annie Hall10 Even with the psychoanalyst set up Roth cleverly gets in stuff Portnoy wouldn’t necessarily tell his therapist but which is richly detailed and adds to the novel’s texture Smart11 The infamous liver scene makes the pastry shtupping in American Pie surely an homage seem tame12 How funny is it that the book was published in 1969? 69 get it? groan13 In 1969 it was way acceptable to be misogynistic and homophobic in print Not so funny today different kind of groan14 As Katie Roiphe points out in an excellent essay from In Praise of Messy Lives Essays today’s literary male novelists Dave Eggers Jonathan Franzen Michael Chabon sure don’t write about sex the way Roth Updike and Mailer did when they were their age15 There's an exuberance and a vitality to this novel that’s missing from a lot of the current literary fiction I read16 The book’s baseball seuences memories what have you I’m not even especially fond of the game but Roth writes them with affection tenderness and grace And his portrait of middle aged Jewish husband dom is as sensitive and moving as his depiction of that era's discreet anti Semitism is disturbing17 Not everything works a trip to Israel for instance but damn this is still a fine book18 It was adapted into a movie starring Richard Benjamin who also starred in his Goodbye Columbus and I recall seeing scenes from it late at night on TV but it looked overdone and checking the internet it got really mixed reviews So thanks but no thanks19 If you do want to see a movie that captures Roth’s anarchic self obsessed spirit check out Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip which pays homage to the man in the central character title and even the font used in the marketing20 I’ve always been fascinated by those American bestsellers from the late 60s to early 70s by writers dealing with the fallout of the sexual revolution Now I’m curious about John Updike’s Couples and Erica Jong’s Fear Of FlyingBut mostly21 I want to read Philip Roth


  2. Malbadeen Malbadeen says:

    It's recently been brought to my attention that my book reviews freuently are not actually about the book And I'm wondering why would you want to know about the book when all you have to do is click on the little blurb about the book and then get on with the fascinating reading aboutoh say where I bought my milk last Tuesday or my fondestmost traumatic childhood memory etc etcAnd yet I aim to please so here is my sincere attempt to tell you something about this book It the book goes something like thissexsexsexsexguiltguiltguiltguiltsexsexsexguiltguiltmoms faultguiltmoms faultmoms faultguilt sexsexguiltkinda dads fault toomostly moms faultguiltsexsexsexself loathingJewish loathingprotestant loathingprotestant awe jewish loathingagain with the Protestant loathingsexsexguilt guiltguiltguiltpartial reconciliation with perceptions of all things Jewishattempt at sexfailure at sexguiltguiltguiltmom's faultNow that I've no doubt drawn you into the plot line and compelled you to pick up the book for yourself let me share with you some of my personal thoughts on the bookGrowing up conservativefundamentalist? Christian I am no stranger to guilt As a matter of fact some times I feel that Catholics and Jewish people think they have the market cornered on guilt well you know what? taint so I got some pretty messed up voices going on in my head too ya know And maybe I can't articulate my guilt trips into clever phrases or pinpoint experiences but I can tell you that guilt taught me a thing or two1 If I don't pick up that clutter someone else is going to have to When I was younger this meant my mom whom after setting aside her career as an artist to raise 5 kids and nearly had maybe did have at one point a nervous breakdown from the lack of money the accumulation of clutter and my argumentative nature In my adult life this means the custodian whom after leaving Vietnam as an educated person has to toil with 2 and sometimes 3 jobs to send his son and seemingly only hope at respectability in this career driven society of ours to college2 Flour is not cheap and ingredients are not to be wasted oh the shame the shame of ruining yet ANOTHER batch of gingerbread men3 pre marital sex is BAD BAD BAD BAD Offering yourself as anything less than a virgin to your someday husband is tantamount to giving someone a big bag of steaming compost with worms crawling through it for their birthday The only thing worse than pre marital sex is being gayit might be worth noting here that there was some guilt reprieve and gargantuan amounts of titillating conversation regarding what exactly you COULD do short of having sex but even that was fraught with the anxiety of accidentally having sex and Im still a little hazy on whether or not I can participate in oral sex I'm assuming it's a no go while okay Catholics and Jewish people I have to admit I've got it easier here masturbating is okay AS LONG AS one doesn't start fantasizing about others while masturbating Which you gotta hand it to them wa ha ha is that not the purest form of masturbation?4 Paper is meant to be used and re used and re used and re used and re used Buying new paper is an intolerable opulence reserved for gluttonous pigs and ONLY gluttonous pigs etc etc etc so did I find Portnoy's excessive guilt to be unreasonable or unreadable not at all I found it to be hilarious in it's familiarity Matter of fact I found most of the book to be hilarious which I hadn't anticipated Some passages that I found particularly amusing are as follows when he ate pudding he shouldn't have Well good Christ how was I supposed to know all that Hanna? Who looks into the fine points when he's hungry? I'm eight years old and chocolate pudding happens to get me hot Talking to his doctor All I do is complain the repugnance seems bottomless and I'm beginning to wonder if maybe enough isn't enough I hear myself indulging in the kind of ritualized bellyaching that is just what gives psychoanalytic patients such a bad name with the general public a child hood sexual fantasy Her favorite line of prose is a masterpiece 'Fuck my pussy Fuckface till I faint' when I fart in the bathtub she kneels naked on the tile floor leans all the way over and kisses the bubbles While observing goys at the skating rink Jesus look how guiltlessly they eat between meals what girls about a non Jewish girlfriend played polo yes a games form on top of a horseBut humor aside I also appreciated some other aspects of the story I loved the line What I'm saying Doctor is that I don't seem to stick my dick up these girls as much as I stick it up their backgrounds as though through fucking I will discover America I remember standing alone in NYC coming from a small town in Oregon at age 17 and seeing the enormous variety of people and thinking how great it would be to be with the deaf man the black man the man in a wheel chair the businessman etcetcetc Thinking how much I would KNOW if I could be with all of them not simultaneously gross and not to worry mom should you come across this I wasn't thinking sleep with them just dates ya know just some museums trips and a dinner here or there okay maybe some light petting too but really that's as far as that fantasy went In the end I didn't broaden my horizons that way I ended up dating one guy One very nice Jewish boy But still I like the ideaAnd finally I'd like to say that I think I damn near cried at one point near the end and yes I did also nearly cry this week when I saw a mud flap of that silhouetted naked lady because I so hate the ideal that society feels so comfortable imposing on us less than perfect females and I was a little chocked up when my son said I like having you for a mom and all of this near teary ness might indicate a certain hormonal fluctuation orrrrrrrrr it might indicate that I'm a sensitive genius? consider Regardless I felt sorry for the pathetic schlep at one pointAnd thus concludes my thorough look at Portnoy's complaints plot points as well as the ubiuitous ME ME ME portion of my review


  3. G.R. Reader G.R. Reader says:

    Portnoy's Complaint was my first husband's favorite book and he used to uote from it all the time When we got divorced it wasn't amicable my lawyer asked how I'd feel about using that fact in court I was strongly tempted but told him after careful consideration that it was below the beltAs it turned out my instincts were sound The judge knew Philip Roth personally and it would have been a disaster I only discovered this several years later and was amazed at what a close call I'd had


  4. Em Lost In Books Em Lost In Books says:

    What a dirty little book Kudos to Mr Roth for writing something this scandalous half a century ago


  5. David Schaafsma David Schaafsma says:

    'Enough being a nice Jewish boy Let’s put the id back in yid”—Alex PortnoyPortnoy's Complaint A disorder in which strongly felt ethical and altruistic impulses are perpetually warring with extreme sexual longings often of a perverse natureI have had a couple intense years of reading Roth rereading some but mostly reading much I had not read Recently Roth died RIP and then I read his last four short books and decided to come full circle back to my I think it was first and possibly the most read of his books Portnoy’s Complaint which reads almost as if it were a joyous comic farce As with many other of his books it begins with a male boy character Alex who struggles mightily with his Jewish Newark working class identity and since he is a teenager specifically with his parents Roth as with most of his other books does not hide his character’s sexual life; instead he celebrates and then analyzes and sometimes problematizes it in all its Rabelaisian glory Portnoy’s Complaint is sort of known as the Great American Novel of Teenaged Masturbation In this book Alex Portnoy is not at 14 having sex but he calls himself “the Raskolnikov of jerking off” and this is how the book comically opens focusing on this There is later a lot of sex in the book usually related humorously—and for the time but probably still now for many shockingly—explicit and what people used to call “foul mouthed” but it is clear his serious subject is what it means to be Jewish in America; while making fun of himself he also satirizes his fellow Jews sometimes brutally The sex obsessed Portnoy is in this tale confessing to his analyst; he is trying to figure out how to be Jewish or not in America exploring these issues through the various women—Jews gentiles—he is with The joy of sex the joys and madness of Jewish life and atheism all three topics are persistent themes in Roth across most of his work and are here from the very firstIt is 1969 and Portnoy’s Complaint emerges after 2 3 fairly tame books from Roth in comparison on the explicitness scale that build his literary reputation and then this famously “dirty book” explodes pun intended sorry on to the literary scene getting him denounced by Jewish leaders and community becomeing an instant bestseller and critical smash The world or at least America is going through a sexual revolution Freedom man stop getting hung up on all this religious repression and just Let Go Love the one you’re with Alex was a top student and is at the time is telling the tale to his therapist 33 a good liberal working for Mayor John Lindsay but is still lost personally He struggles especially in his relationships with women How can such a once good Jewish boy like him get so screwed up? Maybe it's the endless screwing?The book tacks back and forth between Alex the masturbator at 14 and Alex the sadly madly lost sexual libertine at 33 a case of arrested development one of many many Roth books that would seem to take a look at sex and mortality and cultural identity To be sexual is for Roth or is it just many of his main male characters? to be fully alive—while to have that denied is a form of living death And yet it sometimes seems to be killing him even as he obsesses about what it means to be Jewish and an atheist in AmericaThe book begins with a funny look at Alex’s upbringing by a set of neurotic Jewish parents—domineering mother Sophie nebbish father—where the only thing he seems to have control over is his penis Fast forward to age 33 where he is alone childless serial dating various goyish blond women He seems to want to rid himself of his Jewish identity But then in Davenport Iowa he discovers his discomfort with Midwestern Christian America too as he visits his girlfriend’s family over the holidays He doesn't want that life either Later in the book he pursues an Israeli Jew; will it be better in Israel with a “real Jew”? Nope It’s like a dialectical narrative going back in forth between being anguished over his cultural background not wanting to be a traditional Jew and not wanting to be mistreated as a Jew But remember this is—like Salinger’s Catcher—a therapy session so we are not supposed to see this solely as an affirmation of Alex Alex is sex crazy at 33 and all around pretty crazy Portnoy’s Complaint I thought was still very funny in my second reading of it decades later though it may have been knocked down a peg from my list of Roth’s absolute greats such as the American trilogy though still I would say it is in the top seven or eight but it is a manic often hilarious sometimes tiring series of rants interspersed with comic Yiddishisms a monologue a confession from a seemingly arrogant sometimes clearly self deprecating lost soul creating one of the great literary characters of the twentieth century still a source of shock and outrage and humor; still a “dirty book” and very much a literary accomplishment


  6. Agnieszka Agnieszka says:

    One can believe why the novel was shocking scandalous even at time of release It's both outrageous and amusing and uite irreverent when it comes to the widely accepted values I laughed a lot here but to tell the truth I was slightly bored at times as well I've never been to psychoanalytic yet and I very much hope life would spare me that dubious pleasure in the future too but the novel reads like you're furtively eavesdropping confessions of an anguished neuritic in Woody Allen style patient to his doctor Nothing funny to have to confess your personal life to strangers you could say It's true obviously but the way Roth made his protagonist to do that is hilarious well mostly It's a satire of course On religion sex tradition Jews parents upbringing what that means to be Jew in modern society and how being Jew affects the whole life of our protagonist Roth is scathing hard edged and doesn't give a damn about political correctness mannerliness and all that jazz called Jewishness but by Lord how many times one can read about masturbating Alex Portnoy and not feel fatigued? Poor dick cough cough poor Alex I mean


  7. Michael Finocchiaro Michael Finocchiaro says:

    This is the book that made Philip Roth both famous and scandalous Portnoy is a mother obsessed sexual maniac and actually uite hilarious Who else would have had his character masturbating with a cow liver other than the author of the eually darkly humorous Sabbath's Theater? This book and the reaction to it drives the Nathan Zuckerman series of books which all refer back to the public reaction with eual measures of awe and dismay The book itself is a classic and extremely well written as only Roth can writeIf I were to compare Roth to another onanist obsesses writer I’d probably choose France’s Houllebec who can barely string two paragraphs together before whipping it out However Roth is truly able to get inside his characters and make them real living breathing beings I found that Houllebec’s characters lacked any depth or even human understanding They are just masturbatory cogs in a wheel The wheel itself is well described but it is all so nihilistic and fatalist which is one reason why he is a darling to the extreme right who deplore decadence and think that God or their conceptions of rightwrong should be imposed because given freewill humans will always be depraved Roth’s view is less cynical There is evil in the world but it comes from conscious choices and not just from the world’s inherent immorality or some antiuated idea of fateRIP 1933 2018 One of America's literary giants has left us


  8. Shovelmonkey1 Shovelmonkey1 says:

    Earlier today I grossly contradicted myself by stating that I'd enjoyed all the books I'd read which were written by Philip Roth Then I realised I'd forgotten about Portnoy's ComplaintThere is a school of thought which says to write well you have to write about what you know On that basis I know I definitely did not like this book although that unfortunately does not guarantee that I will excel at writing about it With that in mind Philip Roth is official King of writing about what you know and his throne is probably made from giant piles of books in which he has written about being himself or a variant thereof This book deals with several favorite Roth topicsBeing male tickBeing Jewish tickBeing an American Jewish Male tickA mild obsession with the penis tickModerate biographical references throughout his works of fiction thus allowing us to see the author but never really get to know him tickNot fitting into any of these categories being neither male Jewish American or in possession of that vital bit of euipment penis not brain before anyone makes jokes this book did not win me over A monologue of sexual repression poured forth by the eponymous Alexander Portnoy a young man who is so tied to the apron strings of his mother that he's only managed to liberate his right hand and his libido Given the subject matter I think that it would be better dubbed a manologue rather than a monologueThe highlight of the book for many and this forms a lynch pin of many non Goodreads reviews and critiues is Alexander Portnoy's sexual adventures with a piece of raw liver Man meat meets cold meat in a way which might give you disturbing nightmares about visiting the deli The misused liver is then served up to the family as part of a delicious traditional Jewish recipe later that same day Gehakte leber anyone? And don't even ask what the special ingredient in the schmaltz and gribenes is


  9. Gabrielle Gabrielle says:

    Portnoy is in therapy And boy does he need it But rarely has therapy been this funny – at least from the outsider’s perspectiveWhy this book was controversial when it was published in the 60s is obvious it’s brutally honest and confessional about things that were and sometimes still are best not discussed in polite company bowel movements and masturbation are just the tip of the iceberg here – I don’t think there’s a single PC page in this novel And Roth had the talent to make these topics hilarious – which I’m sure must have confused and freaked out a few prim and proper readers 40 odd years ago None of this is really shocking now but I kept trying to imagine my grandfather’s face if he had read this and I’m pretty sure he would have blushed coughed and then discreetly buried the conspicuous yellow book under his tomato plants I think overbearing Jewish mothers sound a lot like overbearing Italian mothers so I think it would have hit close to home tooBut reading it in 2020 I can’t help but feel like Roth was ahead of his time in many ways There is a fearlessness in Roth’s prose in this book which one might attribute to the fact that this was his debut novel but even when he wrote things I strongly disagree with oh the 60s casual sexism and homophobia I couldn’t help but admire the panache I feel that panache like the effective use of symbolism is something that’s not so easily found in contemporary literature and that makes me sad because it’s a uality that breathes life into a story in a very palpable way Portnoy is trying to figure out who he is how his family background and cultural patrimony fit in America Cultural identity is such an amazingly complex and layered thing and this long monologue Alex delivers to his therapist is a sometimes horrifying and endearing but always fascinating glimpse into the mind of an all too human mess of a man Anyone who had to deal with an over bearing parent will cringe with the familiarity of the Portnoy family dynamicsI didn't like it as much as American Pastoral and The Human Stain it's clearly not as sophisticated but it shows Roth cutting his teeth rather brilliantly Even if you don't like Alex much getting to know him so intimately was an unforgettable adventure


  10. Daniel Daniel says:

    I have a vague memory that when I first read Portnoy's Complaint as a teenager I was probably 16 or 17 at the time I either carried my paperback copy with me to my grandmother's condo or perhaps just mentioned to her that I was reading the book What a mistake She was displeased with my choice in reading material and wasn't shy about letting me know This was many years before Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize making him somewhat respectable to the American Jewish community To be frank though even if he had already won the Pulitzer at that time Grammy likely still would have seen Portnoy's Complaint and probably anything else by Roth as a shanda fur die goyim and best avoided by her grandson As an already somewhat lapsed Jew at the time though I found the novel hilarious shocking and frighteningly accurate if a bit exaggeratedAt than double the age I was then I decided to revisit Portnoy's Complaint for the first time partly because I want to see if it's held up for me after all these years and partly to see how it compares to the handful of other Roth novels I've read in recent years including The Anatomy Lesson and The Plot Against America So what did I find? As an older and now completely lapsed Jew I found Portnoy's Complaint hilarious shocking and frighteningly accurate if a bit exaggerated It also stands heads and shoulders above the other Roth novels I've read As far as I can tell there's Portnoy's Complaint and then there's everything else he's writtenI won't bother saying much about the book's content here because either you've already read it don't need to be told about it or you should read the book and I don't want to ruin it for you by recounting the best parts Frankly the whole book's great and singling out the best parts would be a pretty daunting task But I do have one caveat I'm not sure how well this book would resonate with anyone who didn't grow up as a male in a Jewish family in America I'm not saying other people shouldn't read this book they should but I am saying that much of both its comedy and its meaningfulness likely will be lost on all readers who aren't male American Jews As just one small example only such a reader could truly appreciate the brilliance of a suicide note from a son to his mother mentioned in passing Mrs Blumenthal called Please bring your mah jongg rules to the game tonight Ronald Portnoy's Complain is chock full of profanity including judicious use of the dreaded c word sexual depravity and not just the famous meat scene and ethnic stereotypes including a hilarious depiction of the home life of WASPs I've seen some people criticize this book for being too much of a comedy too prone to Borscht Belt style humor Well yes but so what? The book is intended as a comedy and the entire novel even ends with a punchline and not just any punchline but a punchline that wouldn't be out of place on a Catskills stageAnyhow there's no need for me to say much about Portnoy's Complaint Plus I have an easier time writing lengthy reviews of books I hate than ones I love wholeheartedly Much like Alexander Portnoy I'm not very good at being positive and upbeat I'm just glad that the book held up as well as it did for me after all these years Sorry Grammy


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