Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Book Review Club; Nemesis, Philip Roth
(Something of a spoiler alert)
Nemesis by Philip Roth.
Nemesis is the story of a polio epidemic in Newark in 1944 and especially about its impact on a Mr. Canter, who runs a playground program and is about to become engaged.
Roth does an excellent job of showing the effects of polio on this small neighborhood, in relaying the horrible progression of the epidemic, which cruelly was most often contracted by kids.
But at Nemesis' end and despite my interest in this polio epidemic plot, I realized it wasn't really about polio. What it was about was the way in which individuals deal with the onslaught of horror in their lives. How some people can go on fairly effectively, not let things like disease or war or economic disasters corrupt their lives. But others cannot get past their terrible luck, and the idea that this turn of events was unjust. They didn't deserve it so it completely derails them. The bitterness poisons everything.
I have read perhaps half a dozen books by Roth but apparently his last four books have dealt with this theme and I am most interested in seeing how his other characters deal with the fall of the sword. Highly recommended.
For more Book Reviews, see Barry Summie.
ADDENDUM-We went to the Salk Institute in California last year where we learned Salk never took any money for his vaccine. Can you imagine anyone doing that today?