Loved Goodbye, Columbus. What should I read next?
May 7, 2021 7:39 AM   Subscribe

I’m finally done with university deadlines and want to read! The last book I read and loved was Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus. What should I read next? I’ve ordered The Human Stain and The Professor of Desire (both by him).
posted by bigyellowtaxi to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I dislike more Roth books than I like. I liked Goodbye, Columbus, but disliked The Human Stain. I did like Portnoy's Complaint and Sabbath's Theater for what it's worth.

If we're doing book recommendations, the book I always recommend is The Thought Gang by Tibor Fischer (wastrel of a philosophy teacher embarks on a life of crime). Compulsively readable.
posted by Hartster at 7:48 AM on May 7, 2021

Best answer: If you're interested in Roth, take a look at The Essential Philip Roth. However, I'd recommend The Ghost Writer (not on the list), which is not only a great book but is also a novella, so not as big a time investment. Then move on to the short stories of Bernard Malamud, who (at least in part) inspired The Ghost Writer.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:49 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

I can only stomach so much Roth but I thought his Plot Against America was very good, with some commonalities with Goodbye Columbus.

It might be helpful for you to say what you liked about Goodbye Colombus. It’s fairly different from his other novels, with Portnoy being an obvious bridge. Otherwise, you’re maybe just going to get a ton of Roth and a bunch of mid century Jewish writers, all good, but maybe it’s not what you’re after.
posted by vunder at 7:57 AM on May 7, 2021

Best answer: I adore Goodbye, Columbus -- it is one of my favorite books. I also really like the film. But I really dislike the other Roth books I've read -- I agree it's really different from the rest of his work. I would try John Cheever's short stories and anything by Richard Yates (maybe Easter Parade? Young Hearts Crying?). For some reason I'm also thinking of Plath's The Bell Jar.
posted by heavenknows at 8:04 AM on May 7, 2021

Response by poster: I didn't realise Goodbye, Columbus was very different from the rest of his work! Also I should have made clear what I liked about it. I guess I enjoyed his writing style and the general breeziness of the narrative. Sorry I'm not very articulate at the moment.

Vunder - I don't mind mid century Jewish writers at all. Actually would love to read more.
posted by bigyellowtaxi at 8:38 AM on May 7, 2021

Best answer: Early Saul Bellow might get you a similar breezy style. Try The Adventures of Augie March.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 9:19 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

I like Roth fine but see you're getting a bunch of talk about him already.

How about The Fuck Up by Arthur Nersesian or Ladies' Man by Richard Price?
posted by dobbs at 11:33 AM on May 7, 2021

Martin Amis' The Rachel Papers?

Or, one of my very favorite books ever: Scott Spencer's Endless Love. So good.
posted by dobbs at 11:41 AM on May 7, 2021

Michael Chabon cites Goodbye, Columbus as a big influence on his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.
posted by phlox at 11:51 AM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Roth is firmly out of fashion here I see.

But I _love_ the guy. Even the duff ones (The Counterlife, Deception) are great. But The Human Stain, The Plot Against America, American Pastoral, I Married A Communist - all standout genuine masterpieces IMO. I loved Sabbath’s Theatre! Even relatively minor stuff like Indignation I found completely compelling.

If you want to make a study of him - dig into the Zuckerman books. Really I couldn’t recommend his entire output any more highly. Use him as an object lesson in separating, as a reader, the art from the artist. Look past the storyteller & listen to the story. He doesn’t make it easy for you! But why should it be easy?
posted by rd45 at 12:20 PM on May 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

rona jaffe's the best of everything , away from home, class reunion

judy blume has said that she was very relieved that roth didn't cover the incidents which inspired in the unlikely event

margaret laurence's manawaka books
posted by brujita at 1:39 PM on May 7, 2021

Valerie Taylor and Ann Bannon's lesbian pulps
posted by brujita at 2:08 PM on May 7, 2021

Pnin by Nabokov is solidly in that mid-century novel mode that you seem to enjoy.

Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara is earlier and also interesting.
posted by Caxton1476 at 2:15 PM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For Malamud, I love The Natural, but the Assistant is also good, maybe closer in portraying Jewish life, where The Natural is about ambition, failure, and the seedy corruption of America.

Saul Bellow is a natural match, but I personally hated Augie March.

Taffy Brodesser-Akner's Fleishman Is in Trouble is seems to me a very modern Rothian story.
posted by vunder at 5:12 PM on May 7, 2021

Best answer: If you love the breeziness and Jewishness and mid-centuriness and fun with language of Goodbye, Columbus (and I do too, just read it again this year) and you don't want the heaviness of the 1990s and after Roth books, which are wonderful in their own but very different way, especially American Pastoral,

well, then,

it is time for some Grace Paley. Any of the books of short stories, or the collected. She didn't write much but it's all great.

(On the other hand -- it is not quite as much in the straight-ahead realist vein as Goodbye, Columbus is. A little more language-y. So I don't totally know whether you'll like those books. But I encourage you to try.)
posted by escabeche at 8:08 PM on May 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone.

Escabeche - Grace Paley's short stories turned out to be exactly what I was looking for! Thank you!
posted by bigyellowtaxi at 9:51 AM on May 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

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