Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Nemesis by Phillip Roth


"Escaping the city's heat entirely and being sent off to a summer camp in the mountains or the countryside was considered a child's best protection against catching polio."

This book saved me from being stressed about my taxi running late and possibly missing a flight back to Australia - for that I will be eternally grateful. How to describe this moving look into a summer in polio stricken Newark?

The disastrous impact of a polio outbreak on the local neighbourhood,  its playground director, Bucky Cantor and his girlfriend, Marcia, makes for a story that is destined to elicit the odd tear.

The writing is beautiful and given the depressing subject matter, it elevates the reading experience from the purely disconsolate to something far more intriguing. Growing up in an era where polio is almost eradicated lends an air of distance and mystery to the story. Not knowing how it was transmitted, I felt in a similar position to Bucky, struggling to understand how and why the events played out. Yes, I had to Google the disease after reading the book and am delighted that vaccination has saved us from undergoing a similarly torturous experience to Bucky.Given the brevity of the story, it is probably best not to give too much away. You won't regret discovering this tale for yourself. 5 out of 5

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