I Married a Communist - book cover
  • Publisher : Vintage Uk
  • Published : 31 Aug 2004
  • Pages : 0
  • ISBN-10 : 0099287838
  • ISBN-13 : 9780099287834
  • Language : English

I Married a Communist

Radio actor Iron Rinn is a big Newark roughneck lighted by a brutal personal secret from which he is perpetually in flight. An idealistic Communist, an uneducated ditchdigger turned popular performer, a six-foot, six-inch Abe Lincoln look-alike, he emerges from serving in WW2 passionately committed to making the world a bet

Readers Top Reviews

Charlie StellaFictio
I had read about the "revenge" factor in this Roth novel and perhaps because I wasn't quite familiar with the principals (on whom this book was supposedly based on), I ignored the negative spin and just enjoyed the story for what it was ... an invaluable lesson for all writers no matter their genre ... when Leo explains to Nathan why he should ignore the ideology and stick to the art, epiphanies (right or wrong) abound ... there was no putting this one down and the reward (for this reader) was all confirming. Whether it was Murray's decency or Nathan's naivety or Ira's iron will, the story flowed with passion start to finish. The fact there are parents who are victims (and/or) martyrs to their children (and/or their cause(s)) is undeniable (so who needs the revenge spin?). What flows from such a starting point is (probably) almost always disaster. Whether Roth is a brute or not in real life is irrelevant (not to forget the other side of the story--that he may be one hell of a decent human being), do yourself a big favor and ignore the revenge spin. Wagner was an anti-semite but much of his music remains hauntingly heavenly. Roth remains an American/World master of modern fiction.
Robert E. Feder
Another great novel by Phillip Roth. Really great exploration of political motives. Prose rolls along beautifully. The Nobel commission really blew it by not giving Roth the Literature prize.
Roth has the desirable ability both to revel in the particular and to present a visionary view of the general. I Married a Communist is a perfect display of this twin-treasure. Indeed, there is even a coy passage that seems to indicate this self-awareness: “Politics is the great generalizer, and literature the great particularizer.” And again: “Generalizing suffering: there is Communism. Particularizing suffering: there is literature.” One might be fooled by the title and various blurbs for the novel into thinking that this solely is the story of American politics in the Cold War, invoking the McCarthyist threat and the Communist witch-hunts in the early 1950’s. It is certainly that, but Roth presents a much grander vision of the human condition. Again, in almost contradictory form, he particularizes in astute detail the personalities and flaws of his characters to demonstrate that individuals share the human condition and are not all that different after all. Much of the general thrust of the book depicts a negative view of life, the problems we all inevitably face. Roth, as usual, takes no sides and leaves no stone unturned in his assault on everything. That Roth can pierce the vale on any sort of positive valence, thereby dragging out potential problems, is mitigated only by his own self-flagellation – not even his own putative character (Nathan Zuckerman) gets off the hook. There is something refreshing, though, in this kind of literary honesty, this unadulterated look into the realities of life. Ira Ringold, the great Iron Rinn, is presented as a towering figure initially, only to be steadily and mercilessly chipped away throughout the story, the unmaking of a great statue into mere formless stone. Ira’s communism, as well as his downfall because of it, is known from the jump. Roth, in classic form, can drop tiny bombs onto his audience by, for example, unceremoniously inserting the brief details of the protagonist’s death, weaving it almost translucently into the story’s larger current. The usual plot elements in a story, typically introduced in stepwise fashion, are exploded by Roth. He is not the only author to explode this formula, of course, but he does it in a unique fashion, flipping the traditional importance of moments like death, and instead imposing the importance of mulling aloud, philosophically, about life, which, no matter how one cuts it, inescapably ends in death. There is a certain fatalism, running as an undercurrent, pulsing through the book. This is applied dualistically to the political story, as well to the personal story. Often the two narratives step overtly onto one another. I offer a few passages to serve the point. “He has entered vigorously into competition with life; now, becalmed, he enters into competition with death, drawn down into austerity, the final business.” Roth takes us on Ira’...
Pamela J Blair
Philip Roth has a way of presenting both sides of an argument in the context of his story that shows both the flaws of the argument (or person making it) as well as its strengths or truth. I love this. He also did this in American Pastoral. His dialogue flows as if the character were standing in front of you, talking to you, and the development of his characters keeps one totally absorbed from beginning to end.
C. M Mills
Recently I read Blake Bailey's brilliant biography of Philip Roth (1933-2018) the Newark New Jersey born author. Roth grew up in a prosperous Jewish home, graduated from Bucknell and did graduate work at the University of Chicago. He wrote over 30 novels and should have won the Nobel Prize for Literature. I Married a Communist is the second volume in his three part series on America. The first book is American Pastoral and the third is The Human Stain. The Plot: Ira Ringold is born in 1913 into a poor Jewish family in Newark. He serves in World War II and by unexpected developments becomes a radio star impersonating American heroes such as Abraham Lincoln. he marries movie and radio star Eve Frame. She is older than he and Ringold is her fourth husband. Her first was a gay silent movie icon. She has a grown daughter who is a harpist. This daughter dominates her mother. She reminds me of the daughter of Claire Bloom (whose personality mirrors that of the fictional Eve) who hated Roth. Bloom was married to Roth for several years before their divorce. The downfall of Ringold is poignantly told. Roth is a brilliant storyteller and his prose can be both funny and sad. Interesting characters and an absorbing story make this a great book. Present day America is eerily similar to the witch hunting and paranoia of the Red baiting 1950s! Kudos to Roth and this novel!

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