Books: A Sex Novel of the Absurd

PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT by Philip Roth. 274 pages. Random House. $6.95.

Portnoy's Complaint, a novel in the form of a psychoanalytic monologue carried on by a guilt-ridden bachelor, is too funny not to be taken seriously. It is a Jewish Psychological Sex Novel of the Absurd. It is a work of farce that exaggerates and then destroys its content, leaving a gaping emptiness.

Whether this emptiness is to be viewed with fear, hope or a confusing combination of both depends largely on the state of the reader's nerves. The explosion of puritan values—be they Christian or...

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