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Unmistakably Rothian

Roth's latest bravura work reinforces his status as American master, but it also exposes his long-standing predisposition for improvisation over planning

By Erik Tarloff   November 2004

It is not clear when precisely it happened, but at some point while our backs were turned Philip Roth seems to have metamorphosed from enfant terrible into old master. This one-time Peck’s bad boy of American letters, who first made a name for himself with Goodbye, Columbus in 1959 when he was still in his mid-twenties, has become one of only three living writers whose oeuvre is being published in a canonical, multi-volume Library of America edition (the other two being Saul Bellow and John Updike). He enjoys the enviably unassailable reputation that sustains a writer through good books and…

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