Why Philip Roth Deserved the Pulitzer


Read him, yo.

On my dad’s advice a few years ago, I picked up Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America and really enjoyed it. It represented the perfect storm of nerdiness that gets me psyched about a book – American history, New Jersey and some conspiracy. (Two thirds of this trifecta also explain my somewhat secret guilty pleasure Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.)

Needing something more substantial than Jen Lancaster‘s snarky bits of fluff to feed my brain, I grabbed Roth’s American Pastoral, which won him the 1997 Pulitzer. I’m only 20 pages in, but Mr. Roth doesn’t disappoint.

Again, since I’m borrowing library books and not purchasing my own to highlight, a few of old Phil’s lines could use a shout-out for being such fantastic uses of the English language:

“No one gets through unmarked by brooding, grief, confusion, and loss. Even those who had it all as kids sooner or later get the average share of misery, if not more.”

This verbal painting of an Italian restaurant may go down as the most spot-on, most evocative thing I’ve ever read:

Vincent’s is one of those oldish Italian restaurants tucked into the midtown West Side streets between Madison Square Garden and the Plaza, small restaurants three tables wide and four chandeliers deep, with decor and menus that have changed hardly at all since before arugula was discovered.”

Then again, it’s not that hard for me to picture an Italian restaurant.