The Dying Animal

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Houghton Mifflin, 2001 - Fiction - 156 pages
11 Reviews
David Kepesh is white-haired and over sixty, an eminent TV culture critic and star lecturer at a New York college, when he meets Consuela Castillo, a decorous, well-mannered student of twenty-four, the daughter of wealthy Cuban exiles, who promptly puts his life into erotic disorder.
Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, when he left his wife and child, Kepesh has experimented with living what he calls an "emancipated manhood," beyond the reach of family or a mate. Over the years he has refined that exuberant decade of protest and license into an orderly life in which he is both unimpeded in the world of eros and studiously devoted to his aesthetic pursuits. But the youth and beauty of Consuela, "a masterpiece of volupté" undo him completely, and a maddening sexual possessiveness transports him to the depths of deforming jealousy. The carefree erotic adventure evolves, over eight years, into a story of grim loss.
What is astonishing is how much of America’s post-sixties sexual landscape is encompassed in THE DYING ANIMAL. Once again, with unmatched facility, Philip Roth entangles the fate of his characters with the social forces that shape our daily lives. And there is no character who can tell us more about the way we live with desire now than David Kepesh, whose previous incarnations as a sexual being were chronicled by Roth in THE BREAST and THE PROFESSOR OF DESIRE.
A work of passionate immediacy as well as a striking exploration of attachment and freedom, THE DYING ANIMAL is intellectually bold, forcefully candid, wholly of our time, and utterly without precedent--a story of sexual discovery told about himself by a man of seventy, a story about the power of eros and the fact of death.

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The Dying Animal

User Review  - coolidge65 - Overstock.com

Philip Roth is indeed one of the best writers of this century. I have started reading though all of his books which can be delightful funny haunting...This is one of the last ones I have yet to read ... Read full review

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User Review  - rainpebble - LibraryThing

The Dying Animal by Philip Roth; (5*) The protagonist, David Kepesh's fascination and obsession with Consuela's body, especially her breasts, and his pathetic desire for her when she wasn't with him ... Read full review

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About the author (2001)

Goodbye, Columbus' is a first book but it is not the book of a beginner. Unlike those of us who come howling into the world, blind and bare, Mr. Roth appears with nails, hair, and teeth, speaking coherently. At 26 he is skillful, witty, and energetic and performs like a virtuoso"---so wrote Saul Bellow when Philip Roth made a loud entry onto the literary scene with Goodbye, Columbus (1960), a novella and short stories that won the 1960 National Book Award. Roth, born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, attended the public schools of that city and went on to Bucknell University before receiving his M.A. from the University of Chicago and publishing stories about contemporary Jewish life in such prestigious literary magazines as, Paris Review, The New Yorker, and Commentary. Of Letting Go (1962), a novel about young university teachers in the 1950s, the Atlantic said that "the sharply observant qualities of his first book have been expanded and enriched; he has become more probing, tentative, complex"; and "When She Was Good," his story of a gentile girl of the Midwest who in striving for moral perfection destroys her family and ultimately herself, was described by Raymond Rosenthal in the New Leader: "With a simplicity and modesty that are in the end lethal, Roth has written the most violently satiric book about American life since Evelyn Waugh's "The Loved One."' The bestselling Portnoy's Complaint (1969) caused a greater stir than any other novel of its time. Told in the form of a confession by Alexander Portnoy to his psychiatrist Dr. Spielvogel, this outrageous novel centers around the character of Alexander's archetypal Jewish mother. Virtually the apotheosis of the American Jewish novel, Portnoy's Complaint seems almost to have killed off the form it represents, and even Roth himself has been hard put to match or surpass this blackest of comedies. Our Gang (1971) is a clever political satire directed at President Nixon and his pre-Watergate associates, but those prominent targets of Roth's venomous scorn seem pale and feeble when compared with the formidable mother in Portnoy's Complaint. The Breast (1972) finds Roth rather pathetically groping for a subject equally spectacular. oth has continued to produce novels at the rate of about one every two years, but none has come close to matching the impact of Portnoy's Complaint . In fact, Roth has linked together several of his recent works by means of a central character named Nathan Zuckerman, who seems to be Philip Roth looking back on his literary career and wondering where he goes from there. Zuckerman is introduced in My Life as a Man (1974) and takes the central role in The Ghost Writer (1979), Zuckerman Unbound (1981), and The Anatomy Lesson (1983). In addition to the Zuckerman saga, Roth has produced several independent novels. Recent work, such as Deception (1991), deals further with the interplay of truth and fiction in the "author's" life. In his most recent work, Patrimony: A True Story (1991), winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award, Roth recounts his father's illness and death. Roth has also taken an active interest in the work of Eastern European writers, such as Milan Kundera, (see Vol. 2) and has helped bring their work to the West's attention.

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