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Discovered posthumously, this final novel by the author of the greatest American immigrant novel, Call It Sleep, reintroduces us to its protagonist, Roth’s alter ego, Ira, who abandons his controlling lover, Edith, in favor of a blond, aristocratic pianist at Yaddo. The ensuing conflict between his Jewish ghetto roots and his high-flown, writerly aspirations forces Ira to abandon his family temporarily for the sun-soaked promise of the American West.
Fast-paced but wrenching, set against a backdrop of crumbling piers, bedbug-infested SROs, and skyscrapers in glimmering Manhattan and seedy LA, An American Type is perhaps the last firsthand testament of the Depression, as well as a universal statement about the constant reinvention of American identity and the transcendence of love.
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