Friday, February 5, 2010

The Breast

The Breast

The Breast / Philip Roth
New York : Vintage International, 1994
Originally published: 1972
89 p.

Like a latter-day Gregor Samsa, Professor David Kepesh wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed. But where Kafka's protagonist turned into a giant beetle, the narrator of Philip Roth's richly conceived fantasy has become a 155-pound female breast. What follows is a deliriously funny yet touching exploration of the full implications of Kepesh's metamorphosis—a daring, heretical book that brings us face to face with the intrinsic strangeness of sex and subjectivity.

Ok, so truthfully, I bought this book because I'm 5. But I've wanted to read Philip Roth for a while, and I thought it'd be a fun thing to read in an afternoon. Turns out it was!

I read and reviewed The Metamorphosis this morning, and this book is open about its similarity. The main character is an English professor who turns into a giant breast. But unlike Kafka's protagonist, who deals with his family's various reactions, David Kepesh winds up in a hospital with a sympathetic doctor, and a father and girlfriend who visit regularly. This novella is instead about his own mental state: dealing with insatiable sexual arousal, convincing himself that he is insane rather than actually a breast, and then seeing it as the ultimate art piece, all the while maintaining his sense of identity.

The book is amusing and clever, but not life-changing. I do enjoy Roth's style, though, (not to mention the fact that these Vintage International editions are rather attractive) so I'm definitely pumped to start exploring him soon, beginning with The Human Stain.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That is a unique premise. I have yet to try one of Philip Roth's novels.


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