>Portnoy’s Complaint: A Review


This book is outrageously funny, obscene, and smart. I learned about twenty new Yiddish words. Roth most closely mirrors my techniques of post postmodernism. And he gets to the heart of human psychology.

It is a classic, a masterpiece of postmodern literature in its digressive, rambling style, a modern Tristram Shandy. And it is the same kind of novel I am writing. Except that mine is not going to be as Jewish, understandably. Nor will it be as ironic.

For irony was inimical to postmodernism, due to the sense of prevailing closure at the end of last century. Today things are a touch more Romantic, in the Shakespearean sense of fairy tale and magic, rather than the 19th century sense of childhood purity and sublimity (though that applies too). The self-deprecation in the story is part of why the self-consciousness is so effective. It isn’t until the story’s last few pages when Portnoy gets to hear the truth of what he and the society he grew up in really are about. And to compound the narrator’s pathetic nature, his flaws are told by a Sabra.

So check it out, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, if not for the postmodern narrative style, then for the masturbation scenes.

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

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