How lust doth dance attendance on old age. The latest novel in Roth’s late flowering is much concerned with country matters. The itch never goes away – the ability to scratch it sadly does. Becket would be proud of a protagonist who’s not just impotent but also incontinent. And yet the fire burns. This novel is about his unrequited, and unrequitable lust for Jamie – the Texan heiress and writer manque. It’s also of course about the writer’s life and the vexed trade of the biographer.
It’s a riveting read. The critics complained about lacunae, the section on George Plimpton especially. I had no problem with this – and saw it as all of a part with the narrator’s decline. He saw Plimpton as an exemplar of the kind of physical engagement that he was no longer capable of.