A journey into the life of Alexander Portnoy, peeking inside his head as he goes through the hilarious and yet tragic events of his life. Despite how aberrant the events were, I found them all too relatable. I believe whoever lived in a strict household, or an uptight culture that brainwashes its young, would easily relate to this. The protagonist diligently –beautifully, even– showed that no matter how big he got, how smart, and how respected, he was still too small. He was and always will be the dirty little kid his mother warned him of being, so much that he foreboded instant punishment or retribution for the tiniest of pleasures he sought.
Philip Roth is, to put it simply, a brilliant writer. His prose reminds me so much of Nabokov, except the dark humour is more abundant –he’s absolutely hilarious. The book even ends was a punchline, making it seem like the protagonist’s life, all his pains and tribulations, his dreams of salvation trying to find home as far away from his own as possible, all of this is just one sick joke. And how apt is that, considering it’s exactly what he had been thinking anyway.
If I were to describe this book in brief, I would say, imagine Gregor Samsa if he never turned into a cockroach, instead he’s living his whole life believing he is one monstrous vermin who one day will be exposed to the entire world. Portnoy is riddled with stifling insecurities, and yet he believes the world owes him something. He’s a narcissistic, envious, sanctimonious pervert, but I couldn’t help loving him.
Great book, highly recommended.