Philip Roth, who surprised so many of us a few weeks ago by announcing that he had written his last novel, turns 80 tomorrow. As a fan of his writing for more than four decades, I was both shocked and disappointed by his announcement. He is one of the great ones, and it still feels strange for me not to wonder what is coming next from his pen.
I was reminded of Roth's milestone birthday this morning when I received an announcement from Library of America that their final two volumes of Roth's work are available. This brings the Roth collection to nine books totaling more than 7,000 pages, and it places the author in remarkable company. To date, he is the second most published LOA author, trailing only Henry James's sixteen volumes, and being one ahead of Mark Twain's eight.
(If you are unfamiliar with Library of America and its mission, please consider purchasing some of their wonderful books. LOA is a nonprofit publisher and deserves (and really needs) the support of America's book lovers.)
The first video (from 2011) shown below is one of the best Philip Roth interviews I have ever seen, and the second, from CNN, captures a bit of the general shock at Roth's retirement announcement.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Roth - and thank you.