Roth paints a portrait of rural America and two young kids who stumble into a relationship, the odd struggles they go through, the Jewish presence of Brenda Patimkin's parents and the split between being rich and being poor, sex and marriage of the 1950's in Goodbye Columbus.
The main character, Neal, dragged to a pool club by one of his relatives for the day, first meets soon-to-be love interest Brenda, who skips up to him and asks him to hold her glasses before diving into the pool. Later that day, Neal calls Brenda in a shaky voice and asks her out later on that night. They finally meet up at a tennis court where Brenda is in the middle of a game and completely dominating her opponent. Neal is from shoddy Newark and Brenda had once lived there, but now has moved into the suburbs where her father owns a company that produces sinks and toilets. Brenda is rich and has had nose surgery, causing Neal to give a few sharp remarks about money. From then on, the two become increasing closer.
Brenda and Neal do not have a smooth relationship--it is marred by arguments and the fallacies of young love, although it is not a fiery one. Both characters are strong and can hold their own through arguing, but Brenda is emotional and tends to break down quickly. For example, a fight with her mother spins out of control in a screaming fit over money, clothes and Neil (who is now staying with the Patimkins for two weeks). She runs to her room and searches for money to tear into pieces and shove into her mother's purse, just to see how she would react. In Brenda's eyes, they have "oodles" of money and the cheapness of her mother sends her over the edge. This is a book about young love, the meetings of two different people and the introduction to the rich and fabulous Patimkin family coming from the dirty grounds of poor Newark.
This report prepared by Craig Donofrio
GOODBYE, COLUMBUS is the first book published by the american writer Philip Roth in the late fifties. Neil Klugman is a young intellectual working in a Public Library near New-York City. He falls in love with Brenda Patimkin who belongs to a rather wealthy family of the Jewish Bourgeoisie. Excellent descriptions of the different social classes composing the american jewish society of 1955, smart dialogs and an humoristic style. Highly recommended.
This report prepared by Daniel Staebler