Philip Roth’s Most Notorious Novel Comes to the Stage

 Perhaps no work so captures Philip Roth’s preoccupation with sexual perversion as his 1995 Sabbath’s Theater, whose protagonist is the aging, degenerate, and unsuccessful puppeteer Mickey Sabbath. The novel was recently adapted for the stage, with John Turturro playing the title role. Ari Hoffman writes in his review:

Sabbath’s spare staging shines the spotlight on Roth’s language, where it belongs. As its protagonist’s fortunes wane and despair builds, his rhetoric finds a kind of rigor-mortis excellence. . . . Sabbath [at one point delivers an] ode to the Jersey Shore from which he came, and to which he returns at the show’s end. He recalls, in lines among the most gorgeous Roth ever set down, the “sand and ocean, the tide, the stars, the mists, the gulls. The limitless sea, the Atlantic. You could touch your toes where America began. Endlessness. We grew up on it.” He treasures his brother’s dog tags—“A for blood type. H for Hebrew.”

Although Hoffman has much praise for both the original work and the staging, he also reminds us of “the judgment of Roth’s best critic, Ruth Wisse, who ventures that Sabbath’s Theater is a ‘very funny book, a desperate book’” but that the writer’s sense of “sex as our true source of satisfaction and solace bespeaks a pauper’s idea of human potential.”

Read more at New York Sun

More about: American Jewish literature, Philip Roth, Ruth Wisse, Theater


Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security