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Alex Boyd on books in the news. A quick look at newly published material and books of current interest. Your host is Alex Boyd in the cereal department at the University of Illinois Library. With much pre-publication ballyhoo and a long awaited novel finally arrived upon the literary scene it in the February if you're fortunate you'll be able to purchase a copy at your local bookstore. Or you could try to get a copy from the library although if you're not you have not already put your name on the waiting list. Don't bother to unless you go prepared for a long wait Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth published by Random House has created more Western Publishing than any book since William Manchester's death of a president and with justification. Large parts of the Burke work have been published in Esquire The Paris Review and other magazines given promise of what has now been shown to be true. This is a major literary accomplishment. The novels the saintly covers the major ideas of the young Jewish male about sex about guilt and about childhood and more importantly it examines the role of the Jewish father. The place of the Gentile and Jewish and
white and that pillar of Jewish existence the Jewish mother in a way not equal since Salinger's Catcher In The Rye. The hero Alexander Portnoy could be Holden Caulfield at the three alienated insecure and torn by that prime. An impotent force in the life of a Jewish boy his love hate relationship with his parents and his consequent inability to live with or without the guilt. This relationship in genders at 33 years of age Portnoy is unmarried lives in New York and has recently been appointed the city's assistant commissioner of human opportunity. Although not always successful the entire book consists of his recounting to a psychologist his in a suffering an ailment the author as fictional we call Portnoy's Complaint which is marked by various sexual aberrations which in turn caused tremendous guilt complexes. Alexander sees his problem is simply not being able to be bad and enjoy it. But contrary to the teachings of what he terms the two outstanding producers and packagers packages of guilt and time his parents he is quite bad indeed at least sexually.
A list of Alexander's sexual endeavors would very nearly cover the Table of Contents of Kinsey sexual behavior of the human male and describing these adventures. ROTH uses the frankest most unreserved obscenity I've ever encountered on a piece of literature in an interview with George Plimpton publisher of The Paris Review published in The New York Times Book Review. Philip Ross stated that in my writing lifetime the use of obscenity has by and large been governed by one's literary taste and tact and not by the morals of the audience. It might be wise to keep this in mind if you find this kind of writing distasteful. As to the place of the obscenity in this novel the character of Alexander Portnoy not only requires it demands it. He's haunted by the standards set by his parents and especially his domineering mother and is still searching for his manhood in his early 30s. His attempts to exist as a person independent of them lead him into a life of gross sexuality. His use of profanity that is most like a teenager's use of alcohol or drugs is sign of rebellion but a symptom of something deeper.
Alexander Portnoy is caught between. His inability to be a mature adult and the demands of his physical needs you cannot attain the former and the satisfaction of the latter give him simultaneously his greatest freedom and enveloped him deeper into guilt complexes. This book will act if and many Jewish and some non-Jewish readers not only on the level of words but on ideas where authors crystallize most of the beliefs and practices inherent in Jewish family life developed over centuries and placed them in the perspective of twentieth century America. Here the weaknesses and correctness uselessness and ambivalence they create in the end of an individual come to the fore. The book is marked is not marked by bitterness cyber but by witty incisive brilliant humor read Portnoy's Complaint if you can find a copy. Laugh and enjoy but occasionally try to empathize with Alexander Portnoy. This has been books in the nude prepared and presented by Alex Boyd and sponsored by the Illinois State Library. This program was distributed by the national
educational radio network.
Books in the news
Portnoy's Complaint
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Illinois State Library
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
In program number 382, Alex Boyd talks about "Portnoy's Complaint" by Phillip Roth.
Series Description
A quick look at newly published material and books of current interest.
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Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Producing Organization: Illinois State Library
Speaker: Boyd, Alex
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-35d-382 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:04:18
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Chicago: “Books in the news; Portnoy's Complaint,” 1969-04-08, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 30, 2023,
MLA: “Books in the news; Portnoy's Complaint.” 1969-04-08. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 30, 2023. <>.
APA: Books in the news; Portnoy's Complaint. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from