June 25, 2009

Sampling Philip Roth


Philip Roth, getting jiggy

Philip Roth, getting jiggy

A few weeks ago critic and translator James Marcus shared an original dance track with MobyLives that samples the laughter and “Jewish shouting” of Philip Roth.

Back in September, Marcus profiled Roth for the Los Angeles Times, and he asked Roth what he thought of the film adaptations of his books. Roth said he liked the film version of Goodbye, Columbus, but that he despises the movie version of Portnoy’s Complaint, which he called “unspeakable,” even though the film also stars Goodbye, Columbus lead Richard Benjamin. In the interview Roth summarizes the adaptation of Goodbye, Columbus as “a movie about shouting. Jewish shouting.” And as Marcus notes in the profile, Roth then proceeded to “give a brief, comical example, which strikes me as a specimen of literary history, like Thoreau demonstrating how to peel the bark off a birch tree.”

Well, as it turns out, that shout isn’t just to be enshrined in literary history. It’s also the raw material of the dance track below, which Marcus, also a musician and music critic, composed after the interview. We really want this thing to go viral, so please do pass it around. If it catches on, Marcus has promised to make a 15-minute dance floor version. The Clip: Marcus’ Dance Track

Kelly Burdick is the former executive editor of Melville House.