When Knopf advertised Updike’s novel as “a Bildungsroman describing the education, romantic and otherwise, of Owen Mackenzie,” critics knew that the ending would be the crux of the literary proposal. Not that the “getting there” would be irrelevant. But the literary and moral value of the story would depend on where the journey ended.
Religion may be killing us. The good news is that in our post-9/11 world there is a widespread concern about religion and violence. A December 2003 Minnesota poll, for example, showed that 77 percent of respondents attributed a fair amount of the cause of the world’s wars and conflicts to religion.
In this cautionary “what if” political fable, Roth hypothesizes that in 1940 aviation hero Charles Lindbergh, an ardent isolationist who was sympathetic to Hitler, won the presidency. Reimagining his childhood—with considerable fact mixed in with the fiction—Roth narrates an alternative history that has an unsettling plausibility.
The suffering of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation can be documented through broad statistics: the number of people killed and injured, the number of days under curfew, the number of demolished houses, uprooted trees and confiscated land.