Shop Talk: A Writer and His Colleagues and Their Work

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9780618153145: Shop Talk: A Writer and His Colleagues and Their Work
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In Philip Roth’s intimate intellectual encounters with an international and diverse cast of writers, they explore the importance of region, politics, and history in their work and trace the imaginative path by which a writer’s highly individualized art is informed by the wider conditions of life.
Milan Kundera and Czechoslovakia, Primo Levi and Auschwitz, Edna O’Brien and Ireland, Aharon Appelfeld and Bukovina, Ivan Klíma and Prague, Isaac Singer and Warsaw, Bruno Schulz and Poland — what is the intricate transaction between the susceptible writer and the provocative time and place? Roth’s questions go to the original conditions that stimulate the narrative impulse, and he puts them to writers who are as attuned to the subtleties of literature as to the influence of the surrounding society.
Also included here are appreciative portraits of two of Roth’s late friends, each transfixed till the end by his artistic vocation — the writer Bernard Malamud and the painter Philip Guston — as well as several cartoons drawn by Guston, a gift to Roth to illustrate his novella THE BREAST and printed here for the first time. SHOP TALK concludes with Roth’s essay “Rereading Saul Bellow,” a vivid presentation of Bellow’s achievement and, in the spirit of this collection, very much a colleague’s reading.

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From the Back Cover:

"A carefully researched and elegantly written book. It is all the more fascinating because the country in such deep denial of its wartime collaboration with the Nazis is not some benighted authoritarian state in Eastern Europe, but the fount of so many of our ideas about human rights, France. Half journalist, half historian, Nossiter winds past and present together with great skill." –Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

"Adam Nossiter has given us a disturbing and riveting portrait of the afterlife of Nazi collaboration in France. His book is a Sorrow and the Pity for today – a central reading for anyone interested in war and memory." –Alice Kaplan, author of The Collaborator: The Trial & Execution of Robert Brasillach

"An unsettling story...that throws into high relief how France coexists today with its wartime past as seen through the prisms of place: Bordeauz, Vichy, and Tulle. Silence has fueled preoccupation, Nossiter finds, when it comes to the French reckoning of their behavior during WW II. Those long-ago events continue to stir up deep passions, in what amounts to a kind of national auto-interrogation – a process that is halting, distorted, and incomplete...A rattling congeries of the ghosts – from collaboration to collusion to compromise – that continue to bedevil France." –Kirkus Reviews

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In Philip Roth's intimate intellectual encounters with an international and diverse cast of writers, they explore the importance of region, politics and history in their work and trace the imaginative path by which a writer's highly individualized art is informed by the wider conditions of life.
With Primo Levi, Roth discusses the stubborn core of rationality that helped the Italian chemist-writer survive the demented laboratory of Auschwitz. With Milan Kundera, he analyzes the mix of politics and sexuality that made him the most subversive writer in communist Czechoslovakia. With Edna O'Brien, he explores the circumstances that have forced generations of Irish writers into exile. Elsewhere Roth offers appreciative portraits of two friends--the writer Bernard Malamud and the painter Philip Guston--at the end of their careers, and gives us a masterful assessment of the work of Saul Bellow. Intimate, charming, and crackling with ideas about the interplay between imagination and the writer's historical situation, Shop Talk is a literary symposium of the highest level, presided over by America's foremost novelist.

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