Philip Roth’s 30th novel, The Humbling, was published this week, and it has prompted the author to sit for a rare interview. Tina Brown does the gushing video interrogation for the Daily Beast, asking Roth for his views on the future of the novel (what with Kindle and television, he gives the printed book no more than 25 years), on performance anxiety (she’s talking about writer’s block, people, and yes, he worries about where his next idea will come from), and on the challenge of writing sex scenes.
The Humbling has a scene in which the protagonist’s love interest, a “predatory, threatening lesbian,” as Brown describes her, straps on a green dildo, mention of which causes Brown to laugh nervously and Roth to take a sip of water. Awkward gestures aside, Roth sees this love interest as no more predatory than any of us and notes that writing such a scene was “no harder than writing a sex scene with a woman without a green dildo. Most of my sex scenes have been without women with green dildoes.” The objective in any sex scene, he says, is that “you don’t want to repeat yourself for one, you don’t want to fall into clichés for another. You don’t want to be licentious, really.” No, not really, though it can’t hurt book sales and movie options for adaptations starring the likes of Ben Kingsley and Anthony Hopkins.
Philip Roth Unbound [Daily Beast]