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Philip Roth

Writers and Celebrity: Why Everyone Is a Genius

in Pop Culture by

Whenever an author publishes a book, perhaps the best form of publicity is a profile written in a national magazine that is devoured by avid readers. I read one of these profiles the other day and was struck by the fact that the journalist who wrote the piece positioned the writer to come off like some kind of off-beat genius. Indeed, during the interviewing process, the word “genius” was used to describe this writer, who, I must say, seemed very comfortable with the title. It was yet another one of those situations where a writer is being made into a celebrity and, I’ve said this before, book publishing and its most well-known authors more and more resemble the creatures of Hollywood. In…

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Lisa Halliday’s “Asymmetry” – The Hot Novel of 2018

in Fiction by

Back to Philip Roth, whose death still haunts some of us. A few months ago a first novel called Asymmetry was published whose author, Lisa Halliday, wrote about an affair she had with Philip Roth. I saw that the book had good coverage but then heard via another famous writer (who, by the way, ends up being mentioned in the novel) that it was a fine piece of fiction, a “must read.” I marked Asymmetry as weekend fare and polished it off over Father’s Day weekend. Roth apparently has said that Halliday “got him,” which was generous of him as the portrait of the great writer is microscopic, and surely a man as private as Roth must’ve groaned to see himself—warts and…

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Steven Gaines: ‘At What Age Should a Writer Stop Writing?’

in Potpourri by

Last week, I was in a book store when I overheard three young men in their late-twenties making fun of the photo of Tom Wolfe on the back cover of his book Back to Blood. Sacrilege. Alas, the photo was a little silly. It was typical showman Wolfe, dressed in his trademark white suit and tie, a snazzy hat in hand. He’s 84 years old now, and he looked a bit more like a geezer in a costume instead of his usual debonair self. But who cares what Tom Wolfe looks like as long as it’s another great book? “I didn’t know he was still writing,” one of the guys sniffed. “He’s too old.” Too old? For what? So, in a Larry David…

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