Steven G. Kellman, Ph.D.
Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth
From Publishers Weekly
"The obvious hurdle in writing a biography of Roth (1906–1995) is the 60-year gap between his first novel, the Jewish immigrant, stream-of-consciousness classic Call It Sleep (1934), and his second, the four-volume Mercy of a Rude Stream (1994–1998). Kellman, an English professor and author of seven previous scholarly works, makes a strong case against writer's block as the reason for the long silence, pointing out that Roth pitched short stories to the New Yorker for years (with intermittent success). Instead, he suggests, Roth deliberately withdrew from writing rather than allow his autobiographical fiction to confront his worst adolescent shames: expulsion from high school for stealing and a prolonged incestuous relationship with his sister. Kellman's account of Roth's early life draws extensively on theMercy of a Rude Stream, created from thousands of manuscript pages Roth produced in his final years, and carefully details how they were prepared for publication, blaming editorial missteps for the slightly disappointed reaction of critics surprised by the author's new, more naturalistic voice... Kellman gives readers a thoughtful and objective perspective on Roth's life."
Available online here.