Philip Roth died yesterday. He was nine months older than I am, very much a writer of my generation. Saul Bellow, William Faulkner, Arthur Miller, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and J. D. Salinger were all older, already established by the time I was old enough to read novels other than Sherlock Homes. I am not a serious reader of novels, and I think I only read two of Roth’s books, Portnoy’s Complaint and a curious novella called The Breast, but his death at the age of eighty-five reminds me once again of my own mortality. As a young teenage high school student, the writers who meant the most to me were Steinbeck, e. e. cummings, Carl Sandburg, and Bertrand Russell.
Sic transit gloria mundi.