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Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Breast (1972) by Philip Roth

Breasts! People love them.
Book Review
The Breast (1972)
 by Philip Roth

  I remain skeptical of the merits of the "novella" as an art form.  Too long to be a short story, too short to demand the attention required of a novel, it exists in an indeterminate space in the market-place and really only finds a ready audience in high school and college Literature class, where the length makes them preferable.    The idea of spending money on a novella,  20 dollars for a book that is guaranteed to be under 150 pages, makes me cringe.   The Breast is a firm 78 pages, and is basically the opening sentence of the Metamorphsis by Franz Kafka extended for an additional 78 pages.

   The narrator,  David Kapesh, is a college English professor who is mysteriously transformed from a human form into a similarly weighted (155 pounds) female human breast.   He is, to put it mildly, not pleased with the situation, but is very limited in his options, being unable to move on his own and lacking limbs or sensory organs.   The Breast rates about a five on the naughtiness scale.  Much of the text deals explicitly with the impact his transformation has on his sexuality, and to get it into literally spoils the only plot point in the entire book.

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