November 19, 2012
Is Philip Roth’s retirement for real?
by Kevin Murphy
As has now been widely reported, Philip Roth is done with writing.
In an interview conducted in his upper west side home last week and published yesterday in The New York Times, Roth tells Charles McGrath he knew he was done as early as 2010, but that “I didn’t say anything about it because I wanted to be sure it was true,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wait a minute, don’t announce your retirement and then come out of it.’ I’m not Frank Sinatra. So I didn’t say anything to anyone, just to see if it was so.”
Meanwhile, it seems one of America’s most esteemed men of letters has been rereading the classics, including First Love by Ivan Turgenev, which also happens to be part of Melville House’s The Art of the Novella series:
“I sat around for a month or two trying to think of something else and I thought, ‘Maybe it’s over, maybe it’s over,’ ” he said. “I gave myself a dose of fictional juice by rereading writers I hadn’t read in 50 years and who had meant quite a lot when I read them. I read Dostoevsky, I read Conrad — two or three books by each. I read Turgenev, two of the greatest short stories ever written, ‘First Love’ and ‘The Torrents of Spring.’ ”
If anything can flame the fire of inspiration, it’s the classics one grew up reading. So will Roth pull a Sinatra and come out of retirement?
Let us know what you think on Twitter @melvillehouse.