The Anatomy Lesson is the third in Philip Roth’s Nathan Zuckerman novels.
If you look back through this blog you’ll see it’s not long ago I reviewed another book by Philip Roth, narrated by Malcom Hillgartner. It was a considerable pleasure – Hillgartner is a fantastic voice for Nathan Zuckerman – so when I saw another opportunity to review a Nathan Zuckerman novel read by Hillgartner I grabbed it. It was a good decision – no, wait, it was a great decision!
Nathan Zuckerman has filled many pages of Philip Roth’s novels over the decades. Whether or not he reflects any of Roth’s own experiences as an author, Zuckerman is a fully developed character, and never more so than in The Anatomy Lesson.
Here we’re introduced to Zuckerman’s chronic pain. He has visited numerous health professionals for answers and for treatment or cure and is told it is something he might just have to live with.
It was nothing! Yet to nothing he was losing his confidence, his sanity & his self respect.
This book will be very familiar to sufferers whose chronic pain has wreaked havoc on their lives. Zuckerman is in turns defeated, enraged, disbelieving. If only he can find the right doctor, the right drug, the right distraction, his pain will all melt away.
What are all the ways of confronting chronic pain?
You can suffer it. You can struggle against it. You can hate it. You can attempt to understand it. You can try running and if none of these techniques provide relief, percodan. If nothing else works then to hell with consciousness as the highest value: Drink vodka and take drugs.
And so he does. Vodka. Percodan. Weed. Sex. If only he can escape his body perhaps he can escape its pain.
Hillgartner gives Zuckerman a compelling, highly engaging narrative voice. This isn’t really a review as much as much as my opportunity to reaffirm Malcolm Hillgartner as the best voice of Nathan Zuckerman. For all the fantastic performers who have narrated Philip Roth’s novels, Hillgartner is my favourite.
Philip Roth is among the greatest of the past generation of American authors and I’m so pleased that Blackstone Audio is making his novels accessible to audio readers. They’ve picked out the best of Roth’s novels and paired them with an ideal narrator.
This is a fantastic production and I highly recommend it.
The Anatomy Lesson • by Philip Roth • read by Malcolm Hillgartner • 7.6 hours • published by Blackstone Audio • July 5, 2016 • ISBN 9781504724876