The gnawing envy of reading Roth.

I bit the bullet tonight, put aside the fourth Percy Jackson book, and started to read Letting Go, Philip Roth’s second book.

The curse of being a writer, as Stephen King once said (and I’m paraphrasing here), is that you read everything with either weary contempt or gnawing envy.  Guess which end of the spectrum I fall on when reading Roth?

Her eyes were a pure black, and her shiny hair, also black, was drawn off her face in a manner so stark and exact that at the sight of it one could begin guessing at the depth and number of her anxieties.

Passages like this, and others without number, often make my eyes pause as they move over the page to let a little shiver run over me and I sigh, taking a moment with the words, making my peace with the knowledge that I will never write like this.

Which is okay.  I will write like me, and that has value, too.  But to write like PR — yeah, gnawing envy is a good turn of phrase, Mr. King.


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