Monday, October 30, 2006

Book Review: Everyman

Everyman by Philip Roth

Maybe I’m being too analytical, or maybe I’m revisiting my graduate school classes, but I read Philip Roth’s Everyman as some sort of companion piece to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. They couldn’t be farther apart in style or subject matter, but still, somehow, the themes are the same. They both concern the oncoming, unavoidable death. The men of both novels know that it is coming, that it is only a matter of time, but they both want desperately to stave off the event. The nameless man of The Road wants both to save his son and take him with him when he goes. In Everyman, the protagonist wants the security of his daughter’s company while also wants to spare her from witnessing the ravages of old age.

Everyman is a short book that skips all the details and exemplifying that could have made it a full-length and maybe more fulfilling novel. We are simply given his feelings, his thoughts. In this way, it is a very superficial book. Our theme overall may be dark, but Roth doesn’t delve into it in any way that illuminates the idea. It seems to me it is a book about old age written by a man who feels himself growing older but has yet not discovered the way to express the wealth of fear and the rapid changes aging brings.

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