Sunday, May 31, 2009

Indignation, by Phillip Roth

This audiobook was 5 hours and 31 minutes long, and was narrated by Dick Hill. It's is Roth's 29th book, and was published in 2008.

I've read a few other Roth novels, and I run hot and cold on them. They usually have some witty, funny dialog, and have recurring themes of anti-semitism and youthful debauchery. This one is not much different.

This is the story of Marcus Messner, the son of Kosher butchers in New Jersey. He is a gifted student, and is bent on getting good enough grades to escape being drafted and sent into combat in Korea in 1951. He works in the family business while in high school, and goes to a local college for his freshman year. During this time, Marcus' father becomes increasingly paranoid that his son will get into some kind of trouble. His constant suspicions and smothering behavior gradually drives Marcus away, and he decides to go to school farther away.

At the new school, Marcus finds something to annoy him in each of his room mates, which leads him to change dorms twice in just a short time. He also has a sexual encounter with a girl who had once tried to commit suicide, and has issues with alcohol, with whom he becomes obsessed. He is also indignant that one of the graduation requirements is to attend chapel forty times during your time at the school, and has a major face-off with the dean over Bertrand Russell and atheism. All these things come to a head after his parents are on the brink of divorce, and Marcus seems to start sliding into his own form of madness. Eventually, he is expelled from school and gets sent to Korea.

It is entertaining enough to be worth the time, but it would have been a disaster to make it longer. Marcus goes to war right on time, because by then I was sick of him already. Maybe it's because he became an insufferable jerk too soon for me to get to like him. I give it 2 stars.

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