SAL/on air is a literary podcast featuring the best author talks from over thirty years of Seattle Arts & Lectures’ programming.
In our latest episode of SAL/on air, we hear from one of the pre-eminent authors of the 20th century—Philip Roth. He joined us back in October 1992 for a reading from his National Book Award-winning memoir, Patrimony: A True Story. Written with great intimacy at the height of his literary powers, Patrimony is Roth’s elegy to his father, who he accompanies, full of love and dread, through each stage of terminal brain cancer.
As he does so, Roth wrestles with the stubborn, survivalist drive that distinguished Herman Roth’s engagement with life, and his own anxieties around remembering the man with precision. “You mustn’t forget anything – that’s the inscription on [my father’s] coat of arms,” Roth writes. “To be alive, to him, is to be made of memory.” At the conclusion of Roth’s reading, he takes questions from the audience.
Sadly, Roth passed away in May 2018 at the age of eighty-five, after a long and vital career of investigating what it meant for him to be an American, a Jew, a writer, and a man, through many different masks. He once said: “Updike and Bellow hold their flashlights out into the world, reveal the world as it is now. I dig a hole and shine my flashlight into the hole.”