Thursday, June 25, 2009


Roth: the dance mix

It was not quite a year ago that the Los Angeles Times published my interview with Philip Roth. In the course of our conversation, we chatted about the film adaptations of his earlier books, most of which struck the author as pretty dodgy:
Indignation will be the fifth of Roth's novels to be made into a film. I ask what he thought of the earlier adaptations, and he gives high marks to Jack Klugman and Ali MacGraw in Goodbye, Columbus, while ruefully acknowledging the cartoonish tone: "A little vulgarity goes a long way, and they did lay it on pretty heavily." And what about Ernest Lehman's version of Portnoy's Complaint, which brought back Richard Benjamin for a second turn as the author's cinematic proxy? "Unspeakable," Roth declares. "It's a movie about shouting. Jewish shouting." (He proceeds to give a brief, comical example, which strikes me as a specimen of literary history, like Thoreau demonstrating how to peel the bark off a birch tree.)
Clearly his ululating outburst impressed me. Later on, listening to the file, I decided to transform it into a brief dance mix. And now the kind folks at Melville House, always on the alert for booty-shaking literary artifacts, have posted the mix as a playable file or download. Please, check out their post and feast your ears. And feel free to spread this file far and wide. If it catches on, look out for the 15-minute club version, with additional shouting from Bernard Malamud and Isaac Bashevis Singer.


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