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To Read: Nemesis

October 18, 2010

Reading the Wall Street Journal‘s book section, I found this article about Philip Roth’s newest book, Nemesis. I haven’t read Roth before, but this article gave insight into how he writes – from choosing a topic:

Shortly before finishing his most recent novel, The Humbling (2009), Philip Roth sat down with a yellow legal pad and drew up a list of the historical events he had lived through, knew well and hadn’t yet written about. One of the words he wrote down was ‘polio.’ Several days later, he glanced at the pad again. This time, he circled the word polio.

to continuing to write each day:

When he’s working on a book, he writes every day. He’s satisfied with a single page, although he’d rather have more. ‘If I have less than a page, I want to slit my throat,’ he says.

to crafting each story:

Mr. Roth says he doesn’t map out the whole story in advance. While he has some inkling as to what may happen next, he basically ‘feels my way going forward. The book educates me as I write.’

I love getting little glimpses into a person’s life like that. We go along every day living our own lives and being in our own worlds. It’s a little crazy adventure to take a peek into another person’s life for just a moment.

Nemesis tells the story of a young couple in the midst of a polio epidemic in 1944. That’s a topic I don’t know too much about, so I think this novel will be an interesting one to check out.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2010 11:55 am

    Roth is a great writer. I haven’t read this one yet but I’ll be interested in your thoughts.

  2. November 9, 2010 4:28 am

    So this would be your first Roth? Having read more than a dozen of his books, I feel almost contractually obligated to pick up Nemesis at some point, too. Yes–do post a review of it. Even if you don’t end up liking it, I’ll have ideas of ones you’ll like better if you want them.

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