Judith Lautner (judith) wrote,
Judith Lautner

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I am reading "My Life as a Man", by Philip Roth. Generally I think Roth is a good writer. I tend to feel he's a little prone to lightness but not to the extent of Neil Simon, for example. He writes with humor, can't help it I suppose, yet manages to let us in even though we may not be fully engaged. That is, I feel connections to the characters but there is still a wall there, a wall formed by a kind of absurd humor. I don't know, in other words, if I would ever really "ache" for one of these characters, truly identify with one.

I am at a point in this particular book, though, where the character, Nathan, tells about the onset of migraine headaches while he was in the military and hating it, and their continuation after his medical discharge because of them. He questions why the migraines came along, what they did for him, what, as he puts it, they signify. He traces their history to a point when he started writing short stories and wonders if he needs the headaches to write, if he is somehow becoming Virginia Wolff, whom he admired and who, he knew, suffered migraines as well.

His long dissertation on his thoughts on these headaches and his need to take personal responsibility for them is so very like my own feelings about my own. Someone who does not indulge in so much complex thinking would say, as Roth says, "I got these bad headaches", and that would be the end of it. But those of us gifted with the need to think will sometimes take things too far. Or do we?

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