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  • Arts & Culture

    In Which Philip Roth Announces His Retirement (in English)

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    Last month our friends at the French cultural magazine Les Inrockuptibles reported that Philip Roth has called it a day, and the world took notice. Here is the full interview with Nelly Kaprielian, in English. —Lorin Stein

    Out of all your novels, Nemesis seems to be the one where you lay out most clearly your own vision of existence.

    That’s true. I think everything in life is a matter of luck. I don’t believe in psychoanalysis, or in a subconscious that guides our choices. All we have is the good luck or the bad luck to meet certain people who will be either good or bad for us. My first wife, for example, turned out to be a criminal—she was always stealing, lying, and so forth—and it’s not as if I chose her for that reason. I hate criminals. But there you are, I had the bad luck to marry a bad person. Psychoanalysts will tell you that I chose her unconsciously—I don’t believe in that, though in a certain way this isn’t far from my own view, which is that, in the face of life, we are innocents. There is a certain innocence in each of us in the way we deal with our lives.

    Nemesis belongs to a group of four novels entitled “Nemeses” (including Everyman, Indignation, and The Humbling). How are they connected?

    Each one deals with the subject of death from a different point of view. In each of these books, the protagonist has to face his “nemesis,” a word one hears a lot in the United States, and which could be defined as doom, or misfortune, a force that he can’t overcome and that chooses him as its victim. Read More

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  • Bulletin

    On the Shelf

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    A cultural news roundup.

  • “His innate humility counters his naked ambition, his earnest sentimentality complements the company’s ironic capering, and the shy reediness of his singing voice strengthens the appeal of lyrics steeled with resolution.” On Kermit the Frog.
  • Long-lost Kerouac.
  • Long-lost Brontë.
  • Long-lost Walt Disney, in pictures.
  • The lost art of titles.
  • “You better get fitted for a black eyepatch in case one of yours gets gouged out by a bushy-haired stranger in a dimly lit parking lot. How fast can you learn Braille?” Cruel rejection letters.
  • Judy Blume: “I would cry when the rejections came in—the first couple of times, anyway—and I would go to sleep feeling down, but I would wake up in the morning optimistic and saying, ‘Well, maybe they didn’t like that one, but wait till they see what I’m going to do next.’”
  • Miranda July sets up shop in SoHo.
  • Pippa instructs on how to be the perfect party hostess.
  • Margaret Atwood draws!
  • Obama pushes books!
  • Ray Bradbury relents!
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