the star actor of my class, they cannot put a
play on without me. Oh, once they tried, when
i had my bronchitis, but my teacher later con-
fided in my mother that it had been decidedly
second-rate. Oh how, how can she spend such
glorious afternoons in that kitchen, polishing
silver, chopping liver, threading new elastic in
the waistband of my little jockey shorts—and
feeding me all the while my cues from the mim-
eographed script, playing Queen isabella to my
columbus, Betsy ross to my Washington, Mrs.
pasteur to my louis—how can she rise with me
on the crest of my genius during those dusky
beautiful hours after school, and then at night,
because i will not eat some string beans and a
baked potato, point a bread knife at my heart?
From portnoy’s complaint. Roth published his first
work, Goodbye, columbus, in 1959, portnoy’s
complaint in 1969, and The Ghostwriter in 1979.
He once said that the Jewish quality of his writing
was derived from “the nervousness, the excitability,
the arguing, the dramatizing, the indignation, the
obsessiveness, the touchiness, the playacting—above
all the talking.” He received a Pulitzer Prize for
american pastoral in 1998.