Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hot for Teacher

Desiring The Professor of Desire

I started my love affair with David Kepesh when I first read a criticism piece by John Gardner - a entitled The Breast after the novel it was on. Never before had I heard of Philip Roth - I must've been a sophomore in college and still toting around genre books as if they were the most literary thing I've ever seen. I was interested in becoming a writer myself and picked up a copy of Gardner's On Writers & Writing by mistake, thinking it was something about teaching me to be a better writer (in a sense, I suppose, it was).

I had only read the Kafka's short story, The Metamorphosis, solely because I had to - like I said, I was younger then. I never before read something like that before and thought that I would never see or hear of anything similar again. Imagine my surprise when I picked up that Gardner piece and read that some guy named Philip Roth had written something in the same vein, only the dude had woke up, not a giant grotesque bug but a giant breast!

I bought The Breast for only eleven cents on Amazon (obviously, not including shipping) and lost myself in the banal life of David Allen Kepesh and how he one day woke up to being a breast. About a year later, I decided to give Roth another chance and picked up The Dying Animal and found myself, once again, reading about David Kepesh. Looking through the also by Philip Roth page, I found that there were three and I had purchased the last one - according to the list - so I set off to buy The Professor of Desire.

Years past since I last ventured into the world of Professor Kepesh - though I had watched Elegy, the adaptation of the novel The Dying Animal - before I picked up The Professor of Desire. I had my attempts in the past with reading the book, but nothing came out of it. I just returned into the shelf it lived for the past years. Just last week, however, I decided that the season was right and I was in the mood for a little desire of my own. I quickly got myself into it, losing myself in Roth's magic.

The man is a genius. How he manages on creating such "banal" characters who have more than banal lives is beyond me. In the novel, Kepesh returns to his childhood, mapping his sexual origins from a crude Herbie Bratasky to a wild and crazy gal in Europe to his estranged wife and finally landing on the possible love of his live, Claire. It's a semi-different Kepesh from Animal and Breast. Nevertheless, he still has the same fears, the same desires and the same thoughts streaming through his mind.

However, it makes sense that he seems more down to earth in the sexual world in his latter days in the novel, simply because these are possibly pre-The Breast memories and narration and obviously pre-The Dying Animal Kepesh. Nevertheless, it's still an enjoyable read, worth of more praise that I am giving it, but this laptop I'm on isn't letting me express myself further - it's a loaner.

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