I just finished reading “I Married A Communist,” by Philip Roth. It is a great book with great flaws. Some of the characters are caricatures, and in the book Roth settles a score with his ex-wife Claire Bloom and that makes him seem like a bully. You would not want to get into a fight with this guy.
But this is a great novel. You know I love Elmore Leonard, but Leonard cannot touch Roth. Despite his flaws, Roth brings me to the deepest places in me. He makes me the best possible Lowell, the smartest, the most feeling Lowell while I read him. Leonard never tries.
I had 40 pages to read today to finish the book, something I easily could do. I had no column to write. I went into my bedroom in my jeans and a t-shirt and closed the door even though no one was home. I lay on the bed. I disconnected the phone. I read.
With four pages left I was filled with sadness and joy.
Hot big tears rolled down my face. Thank you, God. Oh, God, don’t let this book end. And then it ended with a one-sentence paragraph: “The stars are indispensable.” Simple. Puzzling.
I waited till I stopped crying. I wiped my face. I told myself, “Take a shower. You’re on TV in two hours.”