France: Portnoy Complains

Almost overnight, the world of Armand Portnoy, mild-mannered owner of a Parisian garage, was transformed. There were anonymous telephone calls, bad jokes from close friends and insinuating remarks from mere acquaintances. It was poor Portnoy's most harrowing experience since the day in World War II when he sought shelter from a German air raid by ducking under a loaded gasoline truck.

The garageman's problems began with the French publication last April of Portnoy's Complaint, Philip Roth's novel about a guilt-ridden, sex-obsessed young lawyer. Complained the Parisian Portnoy: "My wife read the...

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