The Humbling by Philip Roth

Mike’s review

There’s a good chance this review just becomes a laundry list of Roth’s fucked up views of sexuality. I was hoping for the face-pummeling remorse of a long life. Like Everyman (which was Roth, so there was sex there too, but more anguish) and got only a little of that and mostly fucking.

There’s a suicide, but the depression isn’t heart-wrenching. A character makes something like an attempt at suicide, but I never really felt any of that depression. And I really wanted to. I picked up this book specifically to hate myself, but Roth’s hatred of women made me hate him more than I hate myself (which is pretty fucking impressive, really).


Lesbians are formed by giving them fucked up names like Pegeen Mike (I assume, had she been born a boy and named Christy, he’d be gay). I realize these names are references to a play I don’t know, but it’s no coincidence that Roth chose this particular play and these particular gender-skewed names.


Lesbians just turn off being lesbians.


Transgendered people just suddenly decide to switch teams.


“A strong, successful, competent woman of forty-eight, a dynamic woman touted to be Prescott’s [college] next-president and how easily she could be derailed!” The successes cited are professional, but the derailing is emotional, having been left by her partner. Also, this is painted as worse/crazier than Pegeen suddenly becoming straight, which is a major life freak out. As opposed to the fairly normal, “I still want you” calls at two in the morning made by the Roth-called insane bitch.


In the list of Axler-approved reasons Pegeen wouldn’t tell her parents about him, he doesn’t mention that he saw her breastfeed from her mother (read: is old as fuck).


“All he was doing was helping Pegeen to be a woman he would want[…]” Nothing wrong with that at all. Completely healthy.


Cocks are just, like, the best. How can any woman go without a good dicking?


The cure for suicidal depression is fucking a lesbian.


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