Baum on Books

Book Review: Nemesis

Feb 12, 2021

Nemesis by Philip Roth, published in 2010, eight years before he died, has got to be one of the most subtly instructive elegiac novels written about a widespread raging disease. In this case, polio.

In Greek mythology Nemesis was the goddess of indignation and retribution, typically against pride. And yet Roth’s tale is about a young man who is just the opposite of proud.

Nemesis is set in the stifling hot summer of 1944 when polio struck this country with renewed vengeance, especially in the Northeast — this was 11 years before the Salk vaccine and 16 before the Sabin.

It’s not every day that a 95-year-old-man comes out with an engaging memoir that looks back 80 years to trace the start of a successful theatrical career and a rewarding personal life as a gay man.

Prize-winning fiction writer, journalist, and witty, celebrated British bad boy of novels and cultural criticism Martin Amis, 71 now, and a resident of Brooklyn and East Hampton, has just come out with Inside Story.

Here are two books that offer unique voices on surviving Nazi occupied Europe and have several key plot points in common. Both feature women as the main characters and neither is Jewish. Both works also explore the immigrant experience in the U.S. after the war. But that’s where the similarities end.

Book Review: The Favorite

Nov 30, 2020

Seventy-one-year-old Lucinda Watson, the granddaughter of IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, Sr. and the fourth child of six of Thomas J. Watson, Jr. who ran IBM  from 1952-1971, calls her debut collection of poetry The Favorite because, she says, she WAS her father’s favorite,  “the pretty one” of  five daughters.

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