Philip Roth: Gender Bias Rules the World

Many of the 20th century’s literary lights are passing on. Today it is Philip Roth, author of Portnoy’s Complaint (“all about my penis”) as well as one of the worst books I’ve ever forced myself to read: The Human Stain.

The Human Stain is about a black college professor who has passed as white for his entire life who is somehow revealed (I forget the exact plot) and vilified for using racially charged terms in class. He couldn’t say “well I am actually black” so instead Roth wrote a lot of sex scenes with this mentally-tortured retirement-age guy porking an illiterate cleaning woman from the college. I think she was about 30 and the professor, “Coleman Silk,” especially liked her because she didn’t talk much nor did she, of course, being illiterate: read. I think I must have had some type of mini-stroke when I bought this book, forgetting that Roth not only had no literary discipline, he wrote only about his . This is one of the last books I bought in hard copy at a physical bookstore.

Despite the opinions of Harold Bloom, Philip Roth was a mediocre writer whose fame arose from fictionalizing the ups and downs of his male member.


I was inspired to write this because I saw Roth’s “Moment” on Twitter. The “literary great” has died.

Let’s see how media referred to another recent literary loss: Ursula K. Le Guin, an author I am proud to say I knew, whose work I not only admired and enjoyed, but worked (unsuccessfully) to get nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature.

Sci-fi and fantasy author dies age 85.

Surely this is an isolated instance!

“Nevertheless” …

Thorn Birds author dies.

That’s not so bad!

… a woman of wit and warmth

Philip Roth wrote about his .

Until McCullough died, I was unaware that before she changed careers to (on purpose) become a bestselling novelist, she was a neuroscientist who helped to establish the Neurology Department at Yale Medical School and worked and taught there for 10 years. While at Yale, her second book, The Thorn Birds, became a bestseller, selling over 30 million books.

We hear many things about why certain authors are well-awarded and recognized. Their subject matter is sometimes cited. Colleen McCullough wrote about Australia, she wrote about forbidden romance between a priest and a young Australian woman, and she wrote about Rome, among many other diverse subjects.

Philip Roth wrote about his .

Sometimes we are told “This person is a great writer because they sold so many books!”

Roth’s best-known book is Portnoy’s Complaint. The man did write a lot: dozens of books. Dozens of awards — nearly every one possible, from the Booker Prize to the Pulitzer to the National Book Award. Multiple times. Surely he sold many more books than …

400,000 copies is almost as much as 30 million. Isn’t it?

But Roth was an educated man who was one of America’s finest prose stylists. He had a Master’s Degree in Literature from the University of Chicago and he taught there and at the prestigious Iowa Writer’s Workshop, the school that had even accepted me before I had to regrettably decline due to lack of funds and being raped.

It’s really just an oversight that Le Guin’s obituary noted only that she was a science fiction and fantasy writer and her age, and that McCullough, a popular novelist, just happened to be “plain” and “overweight” so naturally this was noted in the first paragraph of her obituary.

Philip Roth wrote about his .

Please come with me now for a bit. Because this is my life.

I had noticed a few years ago that the noted Yale literary authority and named chair Harold Bloom, who is sometimes called the author of the “Western Literary Canon” of books taught in high school and college and pushed in stores and pushed

and pushed

and pushed

Hated J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter books: the books that brought hundreds of millions to reading again worldwide.

Bloom also went to great lengths to describe howa writer Philip Roth was.

And how very unimportant Alice Walker (now that I look again, Alice Walker+).

Excerpt from Bloom’s 1991 Paris Review interview which is accessible for free only via Google Books. This objectionable portion is behind Paris Review’s paywall. Paris Review is no longer in academic databases pre-1994.

In more recent times, Bloom has edited more than one critical study of Walker. I am not lying.

Alice Walker, of course, did what I struggled a lifetime to do. Tell the heroic true story of a woman in her own voice: Celie. Celie.

Then there’s this “intersectional thing”. Colleen the neuroscientist who invented her own career as a bestselling novelist and was sui generis, an above the title writer to the max — I guess her intersectionalism was not being a conventionally slender, attractive woman (like Roth’s sometime wife, the lovely actress Claire Bloom).

Ursula was above all that. Even if Robert Heinlein did tell her husband Charles upon meeting the couple that “What a lucky guy he was — she had a rack!”

This isn’t about gender bias. It’s not about race bias.

It’s about idiots.


A man who literally wrote only about his awarded for every possible cause at every imaginable time, place and location.

A pompous myopic thigh grabber like Bloom, himself a horrifically bad writer (he authored ONE sci fi book and boy is it smokingly bad) and I suspect, an agonizingly boring lecturer is the one in charge of “the literary canon” and a “critical overview of the most important 20,000 books in western literature.”

What kind of results do people think they’ll get by putting people with this type of taste, judgment, ability, and discernment in charge?

Harold Bloom expounded in his horrible Paris Review interview about what a great writer Philip Roth was. Simultaneously, he described Alice Walker as an “extremely inadequate writer.”

Roth: gripping, award-winning, bestselling, important (this is from The Human Stain which is really a bad book from every perspective).

I literally selected this screen shot at random — those last two sentences are dozens of words long and are about the black man passing Coleman Silk’s college career — it goes on for PAGES told in the ‘voice’ of Roth’s narrator Zuckerman. This book is really steaming …

I’m not the blueblooded, brilliant academic Ursula Le Guin was. Nor am I the brilliant, honest, stunning Alice Walker. Not a neuroscientist. Not smart enough how to figure out how to write bestsellers of the way people would love like Colleen McCullough.

I’m just a poor white trash orphan girl who wanted to be a writer and who writes every day.

Our world is miserable and unhappy and only 20% of people regularly buy and read books because of what I just wrote.

They don’t partake of writings like Roth’s because they, in reality,

are all about his .

And very little else of interest.

When the day comes that our world understands that it is not top down it is all together we will have, as I have said, the most unbelievable renaissance.

In all ways.

In all ways.

In all ways.

I’d like to send Harold Bloom into outer space but I think people who are a bit more caring, more insightful, more reliable, and less egotistical will be the ones to actually go there.

We are in the same period of human change as those in the Renaissance were when perspective in art became common.

Any unbiased person looking at this from the outside can see what the problem is. An unqualified, unprofessional, destructive leadership class has control of the dialog and heedlessly does and says as they please. And from there, it poisons the rest of us.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, who has excelled as both an executive and a mother, famously said that not only did she experience challenges resulting from being an immigrant Indian-American working in finance in a Fortune 500 company, she experienced challenges due to being a female executive,

Women don’t have to just be better than men at the job: they have to be much better.

That’s not the problem. The other half of the equation is. Like Roth and Bloom, the men are that much worse.

I would call it serving up a shit sandwich and calling it filet mignon but that’s just me.

According to Harlan Ellison and my grandmother, “You’ll go far Amy, because you have heart.” Author of 40 books, former exec., Nebula Award nominee, Poor.

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