Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Living/dying lit.

(For Carolin Combs)

[Note: Interrupting my reading of Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America (2004) by seeing a film made from The Dying Animal* (2001) makes me write this; Anita got it from Netflix.]

Presumably a roman a clef (isn't it always about Roth himself?) a prominent (presumably NYC**-based, English) academic suffers erotic anguish for the 1st-time in his mid-50s when an ex-Cuban grad-student (25) of his in an MFA program has breast cancer & has a breast removed, possibly implying death. He’s slept with a long line of grad-students, but she breaks that bright daisy-chain: his academic & erotic career (wife, divorce; longtime married lover) suffered no shattering drama until this. As a prominent hibrow interpreter of 'great' literature, he becomes a real-life lead-player in a drama even he would admit is major-litty, but nothing can insulate him from really living it; her last words (in the film), spoken in a hospital bed, are (ambiguously) “I’ll remember you.” Is she dying?

*3rd in the series of 'David Kepesh' novels: The Breast (1972), The Professor of Desire (1977), & The Dying Animal (2001.) **The 2008 film was shot in Vancouver BC.

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