Saturday, 22 October 2016

The Breast by Philip Roth

" I actually had  turned into a breast"

The jury that rests in my mind is somewhat out on this one. It is in part very reminiscent, and alludes specifically to both Kafka and Gogol. This tale of a man who turns into a disembodied breast. He rather enjoys the ministrations of  his nurse while  devoutly wishing for some penetrative interface with his lover, Claire. Whether he happens to be  a strange free floating breast or a man, Claire never seems quite capable of meeting his desires and he seems equally incapable of communicating them with her - sounds like a rock solid coupling that one.

While I feel only a man, and definitely a breast man, could have penned this short novella, it is nonetheless intriguing and quite telling that David Keppesh's first impulse is to redefine his masculinity in a slightly phallic fashion. Much of the story is about his thwarted attempts to reach completion by any means necessary - like so many phantom tinder males. That doesn't make the story less enthralling, the sense of futility is one of its high notes. A rather quick read, this was an entertaining and speedy way to check another book off the 1001 list.

4 out of 5 - don't stop now nurse.

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