The Facts by Philip Roth

darwin8u's review against another edition

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"Why is it that when they talk about the facts they feel they're on more soid ground than when they talk about the fiction?" The truth is that the facts are much more refractory and unmanageable and inconclusive, and can actually kill the very sort of inquiry that imagination opens up."
- Philip Roth, The Facts


Part memoir, part exegeis on the same memoir by Roth's ficitonal alter-ego Zuckerman (with some pointers from Zuckerman's wife if it hasn't already becoeme uber-Meta). I walked into this only partially knowing what I was getting into. I figured it would be more than just an author's memoir, but I was unprepared to like it as much as I did. I didn't lke it as much as [b:The Counterlife|11655|The Counterlife|Philip Roth||2751013] (his previous work). Like the Counterlife, Roth is absolutely screwing with the traditonal form. He is bending memoir into a post-modern exploration of not just fiction, but memoir, facts, and his own history.

It would have been a good memoir without the Zuckerman invention, but somehow by having a fictional character critique a memoir, Roth is able to explore corners that straight memoir or fiction wouldn't allow. I still don' think it is top-shelf Roth, but it is still damn good.

readbyrodkelly's review

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This was such a unique book. Written with characteristic polish, and veering off into, or rather structurally framed by, a meta experimental conceit that has Roth commenting on his own work via his fictional counterpart, Nathan Zuckerman, whose lengthy critique makes Roth a character in his own life. The Facts posits that writing fiction, for a protonovelist of Roth's ilk, is the only way to shed the facade of reality and make the truth known. Really brilliant stuff.