Books: Short Notices: Jun. 9, 1967

WHEN SHE WAS GOOD by Philip Roth. 306 pages. Random House. $4.95.

Obtuse, self-pitying, domineering, obsessive, hypocritical, opinionated, exacting, intolerant, selfish, malevolent, deluded, manic—in fact, just about every pejorative word in the language could be applied to Lucy Nelson. She is a young woman who would try a reader's patience in a short story; in a lengthy novel she can scarcely be borne.

The real case against Lucy is not that she is "unsympathetic"—some of the greatest characters in fiction are—but that she is theatrically unsatisfying and an ear-jarring bore. Saddest of all, Philip Roth's...

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