Everybody and their brother has linked today to Ron Rosenbaum’s giddy preview of Philip Roth’s new novel, to be published in the fall (first seen by me at Ed’s joint). The Plot Against America is an “alternative-future novel in which Charles Lindbergh, in real life the figurehead for the isolationist and (in part) pro-fascist America First movement, runs for President in 1940, beats F.D.R. and–soon after his inauguration–makes a pact with Hitler.”
So how’s the book? Nice but ultimately meaningless, if we’re to trust Rosenbaum’s analogy:
It was the night of that Lakers-Pistons overtime game. I mention this because as soon as I got home with the Roth galley, I proceeded to read all 390 pages straight through the night, with only one interruption: watching that amazing last-quarter Lakers comeback, capped by Kobe Bryant’s stunning game-tying, buzzer-beating three-point shot. It’s not like Roth has to make a comeback or Kobe has something to prove (wait, that’s not completely true), but there’s at least a surface analogy there: Both the game and the reading experience were, in some primal way, unbearably suspenseful….
What is the “Plot Against America”? I ain’t tellin’, but it gets freaky toward the end and scary throughout: There was just no way I was going to get to sleep without finishing the book. I hope the serious-minded literati among you will forgive me for dwelling on the confluence of the Kobe Bryant shot and the Roth novel, but the Kobe shot had something of a similar quality, a jaw-dropping last-quarter gamble that pays off and leaves you astonished. A long rainbow arc. Nothing but net.
Lead time’s a bitch.
UPDATE: Rosenbaum’s piece prompts Sarah, who must have been an English teacher’s dream–or a bad English teacher’s nightmare–to reminisce about her checkered history with Roth’s work and to consider giving him a second chance. Go read her tale of precociousness!