Books: A Million-Dollar Misunderstanding

ZUCKERMAN UNBOUND by Philip Roth Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 225 pages; $10.95

Philip Roth once described himself as part Henny Youngman and part Henry James. His severest critics, however, treated him as if he were part Lenny Bruce, part Meyer Lansky. The studious, law-abiding author of Portnoy's Complaint was regarded by some to have distorted his heritage for a few laughs and committed a profitable act of cultural gangsterism. Judging from his published responses, Roth was surprised that he had caused such a fuss. One does not, after all, have to be Alfred North...

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