Roth Hangs ‘Em Up

November 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

Via David Daley at Salon, Philip Roth tells a French magazine that he has written his last book.

Roth said that at 74, realizing he was running out of years, he reread all his favorite novels, and then reread all his books in reverse chronological order. “I wanted to see if I had wasted my time writing,” he said. “And I thought it was rather successful. At the end of his life, the boxer Joe Louis said: ‘I did the best I could with what I had.’ This is exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had.”

Good for him for deciding to go out on his own terms. We who are struggling to write our first stories tend to regard foolishly the writer’s hunger, as though scratching the itch should not bring anything but a worse itch. (Personally, I think it’s really depressing when a writer departs this mortal coil and leaves behind half-finished work, which the writer’s editor then tries to cobble together into something that can be upsold as a mark of punctuation on the writer’s career, as well as appease the completists.)

The good news for us is now we have a chance to catch up to him, in terms of output.


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