Forgive me Philip Roth, for I have sinned. First of all, I’m confessing as though I was that kind of Catholic and according to that weird guy at Barnes & Noble you’re an atheist. So I guess that’s kind of weird.
Anyway, Mr. Roth, my sin is that of doubt. I doubted you. Oh you of twenty-nine books and the admiration of Charles D’Ambrosio, Jonathan Lethem, and Nathan Englander. Yes, I picked up Indignation with doubt in my heart. And that doubt, it did persist.
I only picked up the book so soon because I really, really wanted to finish reading David Gates’ review in The Times. I needed to find out what important information you were withholding until 1/3 of the way through the book, and boy howdy was it a doozy.
How do you pull that shit off?
But even after the big reveal the doubt persisted. I had a tough time believing that Marcus Messner was really a nineteen-year-old Jersey boy from Newark going to college in Winesburg, Ohio in 1951. The dialog was a little, hrm, unbelievable. Maybe it was the Bertrand Russell on atheism soliloquies. No, wait, it totally was the soliloquies. I doubted through all that.
I doubted through the blow job, and the confessions of the lovely Ms. Olivia Hutton. I doubted through the appendicitis and the weird divorce conversation. But then came the Great White Panty Raid of 1951 and you made a believer out of me. It was stunning! The images you created of the blizzard and the snowball fight gone awry, were just beautiful and symbolic and wonderful. Fuckin’ A Mr. Roth, you knocked it outta the ballpark.
I bow in the presence of your greatness and now have great guilt for doubting you. Because in the end it all made sense, it came together and what you created was an awesome tale about indignation, rebellion, and how all those small choices effect our life and the lives of others.
I’ll be reciting seven “America”s by Allen Ginsberg and re-reading The Ghostwriter as penance.
Peace be with you.