January 17, 2013

Philip Roth thinks it’s over


Our recent posts about Philip Roth — such as Monday’s post about his regard for his own books, and yesterday’s post about his supposed retirement from writing — have drawn a lot of traffic. His opinion still seems to matter to a large number of people, whether he publishes again or not.

Which somehow made me recall his interview with Tina Brown. It’s full of provocative comments, such as, “If you read a novel in more than two weeks, you don’t read the novel.” But especially given his recent, rather sweet comments about the impact of his own early books — I’m thinking of his comments about trying to prep his parents for the furor he expected upon the release of a sex-romp called Portnoy’s Complaint — the comment that stand out from this brief snippet of his talk with Brown is the forlorn comment that the book “can’t measure up” against screens, be they movie, television, computer, or Kindle screens. People won’t be reading books in 25 years, he says — and when he said that, he tells Brown, “I was being optimistic.”

Here’s the part of the interview I’m talking about — what do you think?



Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.