(Disclaimer: Spoilers related to the Philip Roth novel Indignation ahead.) Oct. 2, Philip Roth will jump readers to the end of his new novel Indignation. On WNYC, the writer will explain how, if you read to the end of his book, you find that the narrator Marcus Messner is not, in fact, dead, but merely in the midst of a morphine hallucination of his own death. This contradicts both reviews of the book in the Times, one by Michiko Kakutani, the other in the Sunday Book Review. In so doing, it begs the question: Did those reviewers bother to read the book all the way to the end?
Not until the end do we discover that this is-I think you discover-this is a morphine-induced hallucination and in the morphine revelry that he has he tells his story, and in that morphine revelry he wonders where the hell am I? And he thinks, well I must be dead. And in fact he does die, but he dies after the morphine-induced thought of death comes to him.
So Roth's character dies right after thinking he's dying or dead. So does that mean Kakutani was right when she wrote the book is perhaps the narrator's "last, morphine-fueled memories as he lies dying of fatal wounds?" That depends on whether the narrator dies of fatal wounds. And if two paid Times reviewers can't get the ending straight, we're not about to try.
(WNYC photo via Observer)