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More Tales of American Jews – Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth

The Six Stories of Goodbye, Columbus

This is quite a break from my readings, but really, it’s not one that I would call a guilty pleasure. The only pleasure that I have from this book is that I can start anywhere. Not exactly anywhere; I mean I can choose any story to read without losing the essence of this collection of short stories.

I started with the shortest story first. I was unaffected because I somehow did not get the feel of that story, You Can’t Tell a Man by the Song He Sings. Probably because it’s too short; I’m adjusting myself to short stories.

The second shortest story, The Conversion of the Jews, is better. Here’s a snippet of the last few paragraphs:

“Mamma, don’t you see-you shouldn’t hit me. He shouldn’t hit me. You shouldn’t hit me about God, Mamma. You should never hit anybody about God-”

“Ozzie, please come down now.”

“Promise me, promise me you’ll never hit anybody about God.”

He had asked only his mother, but for some reason everyone kneeling in the street promised he would never hit anybody about God.

Once again there was silence.

If you are wondering, this story is about a boy who is baffled with a lot of theology deemed unacceptable by the regular Jew. Ozzie’s thoughts on God may be absurd, but as he asked his mother while he is threatening both the crowd and himself from jumping off the roof of a three-storey building, one should not hit anyone just because he has a different set of beliefs regarding God and religion in general.

The other stories are more or less about Jews: Jews in school, middle-aged Jews, Jews in the army, Jews persecuted by an upper-class town.

So yes, I’ve finished five of the short stories, and still, I’m halfway through. Goodbye, Columbus, is the first and longest story in this collection. It is actually a novella. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s something Jewish about it.

Date Started: February 14, 2012. 10:30 PM. Book #07 of 2012.

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