Friday, March 20, 2009

The Indiscreet Novelist

Philip Roth's birthday was noted on Garrison Keillor's almanac, and included a choice bit of wisdom that should urge us all to boldness. Note that Roth is the novelist who reached his first fame with Portnoy's Complaint (1969), about a man obsessed with sex.

Roth is quoted as saying: "I cannot and do not live in the world of discretion, not as a writer, anyway. I would prefer to, I assure you -- it would make life easier. But discretion is, unfortunately, not for novelists."

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Debra W said...

And thank God for that! Seems to me that being a novelist means testing the outer boundaries of what is socially acceptable and then creating new ones.

Happy birthday to your Mother, Peggy! I do hope that she has a wonderful day!


Peggy Payne said...

Thanks, Debbie. Mom loved her family history I put together.

Seems some of my ancestors seriously tested the bounds of what was socially acceptable. One of them in Missouri during the Civil War led a little band that burned at least 21 riverboats bringing Union supplies down the Mississippi...Then went back to his first love, which was education. What I noticed in the whole history is a trait that I could have more of, the sense of being right, whether in the classroom or at war. (Well, I do have some of that trait.)

Debra W said...

Peggy, I love that you were not only able to find out more about your family history, but that you were able to find some interesting family traits along the way. I like the "rebel streak" which seems prevalent within your genetics. That in itself is a very bold characteristic. When your Mother read the history, did she come up with any new stories to add? It's so important to get the information from our family members while we still can. I don't know if we really think about how important those little details will be someday. Your nephews will appreciate your search!

And I don't know, Peggy, I think that you definitely do have that family trait. The sense of being right. There is a difference between that and thinking that you are always right. People who have the 'sense' of being right seem to be more willing to stand up for what they believe. From what I have read over the past couple of years(Has it really been that long?) you certainly have been displaying more and more of that quality. And yes, it is a very good thing!

Peggy Payne said...

Thanks, Debbie. And I had thought that this was the more feet-on-the-ground, non-reckless side of my family.

I do have a strong sense of what work I'm supposed to be doing. So do you, especially from what I read on your blog about your call to motherhood. That sense of mission is such a wonderfully clarifying and oddly freeing thing to have.