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Download Goodbye, Columbus: And Five Short Stories Audiobook (Unabridged)

Extended Audio Sample Goodbye, Columbus: And Five Short Stories (Unabridged) Audiobook, by Philip Roth
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (6,998 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Philip Roth Narrator: John Rubinstein Publisher: Phoenix Books Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2009 ISBN:
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Neil Klugman and pretty, spirited Brenda Patimkin - he of poor Newark, she of suburban Short Hills - meet one summer and dive into an affair that is as much about social class and suspicion as it is about love. The novella, the first book published by Philip Roth, explores issues of both class and Jewish assimilation into American culture. It won the National Book Award in 1960. Download and start listening now!

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ajay R | 2/16/2014

    " What do we generally get when we read a Philip Roth novel? Lecherous old men (Mickey Sabbath), men who seem to be misogynistic , men constantly on the threshold of boiling point ready to burst (Ira Ringold), men are colossus in their own way, magnificent in both success and failure (Swede Levov in American Pastoral is an example of the latter). They are morally ambivalent, selfish, trampling down other people's emotions, strong, stubborn, but never ever craving for sympathy, at least outwardly. You may like or hate them but you simply cannot ignore them. 'Goodbye Columbus' Roth's first published work (1959) is an antithesis to whatever I have said above. This is Roth at his most tender self, a self we cannot see in most of his later works. The book is a collection of 5 short stories and a novella the title of which is the book's title. (Probably his only set of short stories). The full set of stories have as their common point, young Jewish Americans coming growing up and trying to assimilate into the greater American society, going beyond the ghettos. 'Conversion of the Jews' is probably the most famous and celebrated story of the 5. It concerns Ozzie a boy just into his teens who is full of questions about God. His most insistent doubt is about the virgin Mary and the immaculate conception. The Rabbi who teaches Ozzie thinks that he is being impertinent and tries to avoid the question. When Ozzie persists, he slaps him. Ozzie snaps and runs on to the top of the building and threatens to jump. People try to dissuade him. Ozzie threatens that he would jump until all of them get down on their knees and accept that the immaculate conception of Mary is a truth. They do. But Ozzie jumps anyway only to be caught in a net which has been spread out by the firemen. This story could either be seem as a touching one about the innocence of the young or as a melodramatic piece of storytelling trying to thrust an message down our throats. I personally am ambivalent about the story's impact, but this is only on recollection of the story. When you read story however, you are sure to be sucked into it. The other 4 stories are also good and all concern the jewish people trying to find their way in the American society. Epstein and Defender of the Faith are 2 stories that I particularly enjoyed the most than the other 3. 'Defender of the Faith' is both infuriating and funny at the same time, if such a thing can be possible. The stories could be taken as a self criticism/introspection done by an young author on his community/heritage or Roth could be seen a person hating the identity bestowed on him by his birth. I tend to go for the former. The novella 'Goodbye Columbus' is the story of Neil Klugman a Jewish graduate belonging to the middle class and staying with his uncle and aunt and his ill fated romance with a wealthy Jewish girl over the period of a summer. They meet during a tennis match and Neil seems to fall in love with her. The remaining story is full of day to day incidents of their meetings, tennis matches, swimming, Neil staying at Brenda' house for a short while, as they work out their relationship. Though both are Jewish, the class divide between them seems to be too big for Neil to cross Brenda and her parents are fully assimilated in their societal strata though both Neil and Brenda's families had started from the same place. (Brenda's brother is a basketball player in college, supposed to be a gentile sport).Neil is still unsure about his way forward. Both families are also not too keen on their union and Brenda's parents make Neil feel even worse with their condescending attitude towards him. Outwardly they are cordial to him and try to make him comfortable, but in doing so keep reminding him of his alienation from them. Neil and Brenda continue their relationship amidst all this, even have sex (remember this is set in the 50's so it would have been a big deal then), but the differences between them results in a gradual straining of the relationship between them and ultimately falls apart. The novella ends with their separation. One thinks that it was not love that bonded them, but casual lust. It was probably just the boredom of a summer and the excitement of crossing certain moral boundaries that got them together and once that was done they both lapsed back into their own worlds which could not be reconciled for any great amount of time. Also they were probably both two very different individuals who just could not coexist closely together. This again could be a result of their different upbringings which makes one think that the class divide is somehow more difficult or at least as difficult to bridge than any differences in ethnicity or race. This book shows a tender side of Roth which is not explicitly visible in his later works. In fact, in his later works you even feel that Roth is almost heartless and lacks empathy when dealing with his characters and consequently his characters too behave the same. The negligible female voice in this book also mirrors his latter works where female perspective is almost non-existence and if present, mostly in negative. The reconciliation of the Jewish identity with the American society that is touched upon is a recurrent theme in a lot of his works. All in all, a solid read and a good introduction to Roth. But beware, if expect the same Roth here in his other works you would be disappointed, but those who have read his other works but not this, would be pleasantly surprised by the change in tone here. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michele Drohan | 2/4/2014

    " My first Roth and it won't be my last. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maren | 1/26/2014

    " yay for chauvinism. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tim | 1/25/2014

    " One of my favorite books... a striking novella. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tobey | 1/21/2014

    " It felt like a 1950's story to me. I liked it a lot at the beginning but by the end I was glad it was done. He is a good writer. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Russell | 1/18/2014

    " I've really only read "Goodbye, Columbus." Really an excellent book about that time in a young man's life when he is torn between his own abstract life of the mind and the real world that lays before him. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lindy | 1/12/2014

    " Again, this book is worthy of less than one star. I loathed this book. It was so unnecessarily angsty. I did enjoy Roth's shortstory The Conversion of the Jews, but this book was pitifully wretched. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sharone | 1/3/2014

    " We only read the title story for my Postmodern class this semester, but it was funny and familiar and wrenching. I just loved it - maybe because I was raised with a stronger-than-usual-for-someone-not-actually-Jewish Jewish sensibility. Also, the tone and dialogue reminded me so much of Neil Simon, who is probably my favorite late 20th c. playwright. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeffrey | 12/18/2013

    " I saw the movie and it didn't make sense so I read the book. I enjoyed the writing style and the subtle humor. I really like this author and hope to read more of his books "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jill | 12/15/2013

    " Classic Roth and a must for anyone into stories about class warfare and love (attempting) to conquer all. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matthew James | 11/26/2013

    " This is a book you just want to read. It just slips off your tongue. Philip Roth's gripping and hilarious literary style and an amusing story is unforgettable. An amazing books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 11/21/2013

    " fantastic collection of stories. have to admit I found the final tale of Eli, the fanatic the most interesting and striking original. a touching and curious inspection on the topics of identity and self discovery. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea | 11/20/2013

    " The Conversion of the Jews has put Philip Roth on my favorite writers list. What a brilliant short story... First it made me laugh and when Ozzie made his mother promise never to hit anybody about God, I cried. I think everybody should be made to make that promise. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maria | 10/5/2013

    " liked the Goodbye Columbus story...not so much the 5 following ones. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelly | 9/24/2013

    " A great story about the class system in America and one's ability (or in this case inability) to cross those lines socially. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sophie | 1/15/2013

    " Philip Roth's prose just doesn't seem awesome to me. And, as Nancy said, there's a penis at the center of every book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cat | 11/5/2012

    " Philip Roth is important, and I know this story was important when it was first published, but - frankly - I was bored. Sorry mom! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 9/11/2012

    " Roth was hot back in the '70's. Remember the movie with Ali McGraw? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michael Shilling | 9/8/2012

    " Though the title story is moving, elegiac, and beautifully structured, the absolute diamond in here is "Defender of The Faith." An amazing story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lysergius | 9/3/2012

    " Only read this because the film had Ali McGraw in it... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pippin | 1/22/2012

    " too crude. i didn't really care about these characters... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julia | 1/4/2012

    " Old school Phillip Roth, which I like much better than new school Phillip Roth. Great protagonist. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kirk Bower | 12/19/2011

    " "Goodbye, Columbus" very good work (poor boy meets rich girl). Roth is one of my favorites. 1st short story very good-others just ok. But, he was only in his mid-twenties at the time (if I recall correctly from my Lit. days). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wes Young | 8/28/2011

    " Every story in this collection, with the exception of "You can't tell a man by the song he sings" is absolute gold! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joseph | 7/25/2011

    " It was okay. It accurately reflected the time period. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Glenn | 5/27/2011

    " I'm a big Roth fan and I love his novels. Something about the short strry format though seems to make Roth an even better writer. "The Conversion of the Jews" is probably my favorite story in the book, but that changes each time I read it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nikki | 5/25/2011

    " I read this as a teenager so I can't really remember it that well; recall that I enjoyed it at the time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Scott | 5/18/2011

    " I have got to stop reading Roth. Great prose, plots and characters but damn depressing. Every one. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Peter | 5/7/2011

    " Philip Roth's first published book, it is a bit dated now because of the subject matter and society's changing social morays, but a work that presaged Roth's talent, kicking off a literary career that has spanned decades and providing Roth with many awards and much recognition. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vincent | 4/19/2011

    " A re-read....
    And as this book was many years ago, thus it is now. Excellently written, observed, tight scenes. Simply Roth's skills have never involved me, never had an emotional pull nor did he speak to matters that mattered to my imagination. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Greg | 4/2/2011

    " Only read Goodbye Columbus, not the five short stories "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brian | 1/12/2011

    " "Goodbye, Columbus" and "The Conversion of the Jews" were both good. "Letting Go" needed a good editor. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Justin | 1/1/2011

    " Can't believe he wrote this at 26. Reminds me of young Martin Amis but is funnier and more subtle. Some characters reminded me of George Kostanza and his parents! Will read more Roth "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 12/19/2010

    " Lovely collection of Roth's shorter work. For me, "The Conversion of the Jews" is nothing short of brilliance. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeffrey | 12/7/2010

    " Goodbye, Columbus was my first Philip Roth book - everything I've read since has been better. And this was REALLY good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 QVT | 11/14/2010

    " 3.5 for novella. The last story was absolute garbage I just skimmed most of the second half it felt like some kind of weak attempt at the revelation story ala Cathedral or Araby. "

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About the Author
Author Philip Roth

Philip Roth is one of the most decorated writers in American history, having won the National Book Critics Circle Award twice, the PEN/Faulkner Award three times, the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, and many more. He also won the Ambassador Book Award of the English-Speaking Union and in the same year received the National Medal of Arts at the White House. In 2001 he received the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction, given every six years “for the entire work of the recipient.”

About the Narrator

John Rubinstein is an actor, composer, and director who won a Tony Award for his starring role in Broadway’s Children of a Lesser God. He has narrated dozens of audiobooks, earning several AudioFile Earphones Awards and being named a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award for best narration in 2013.