Many years ago, I read Philip Roth's delicious novel, The Human Stain. I loved everything about it, the premise, the writing, the characters, the twists, everything. Since then, I've found myself diving head first into multiple Roth novels, only to discover the water too shallow for me to immerse myself completely. That is- no other Roth novel has captured me like The Human Stain.
My Fa says that I don't write about books that appeal to him, so I decided to give Roth another try. This time, I chose Indignation. Marcus is a kosher butcher's son from Jersey who leaves home for a small midwest college. The story chronicles his year at the school.
All Roth books deal with some heavy concepts. This one studied the fears an American young man faced during the Korean war. It was a fairly simple choice-- go to college or go to war. But, for Marcus, there were other issues at play. Like all of us, Marcus was learning about himself through his interactions with others. Like all of us, Marcus found college to be an awakening; the world was so much more than he'd ever imagined in his Newark neighborhood.
Of course, discovering the world can be a bit daunting and, sadly, can often be quite disappointing. The crux of the novel focuses on that disappointment. I won't give away details, but suffice it to say the novel doesn't end happily.
I can't say I loved this book. I can't even say I liked it. It was one of those books that leaves a feeling of discomfort in the pit of your stomach. It's heavy and challenging and more realistic in its evaluation of life and personality. But, I think sometimes its good to read a book that will push me out of my comfort zone. Such novels make me question myself-- do I have as much conviction as someone like Marcus? Do I want to have as much passion, however misguided Marcus may be, for certain issues? I honestly don't know. But, that's why I keep reading Roth's books.