Friday, June 22, 2012

Five best books featuring pariahs

Richard Zimler's novels include The Seventh Gate and The Warsaw Anagrams.

One of his five best books featuring pariahs, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
I Married a Communist
by Philip Roth (1998)

Starting in the 1990s, Philip Roth began to shed his standard plot—centered on a sexually adventurous and maddeningly witty, bookish Jewish-American protagonist—and to explore instead the fall from grace of protagonists who run afoul of American mores and politics. In "I Married a Communist," he brilliantly explores the chilling effect of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's anticommunist crusade on America's insecure Jewish community and others. The story focuses on radio star Ira Ringold, who is accused of inserting pinko propaganda into the scripts of his dramatic series. Every time we think we've reached the truth about Ringold's alleged anti-American conspiring—and about his tumultuous relationship with his wife, an actress who ends up betraying him and sealing his doom—Roth peels away another layer of the story and shows us that we've been mistaken. The sleight-of-hand plotting is deft, and the author's newfound confidence in his reader—we don't need to be entertained by sexual acrobatics or clever banter to keep us reading insightful prose—gives this work memorable force.
Read about the other books on the list.

Writers Read: Richard Zimler (August 2007).

--Marshal Zeringue