By Ken Tucker
Updated May 10, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

Everyman

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After the remarkable run of American Pastoral, I Married a Communist, The Human Stain, and The Plot Against America, this short novel disappoints. It verges on being a mocking summation of what people who don’t appreciate Philip Roth’s work mistakenly think it’s all about. Everyman can be summed up in one of its sentences: ”He’d married three times, had mistresses and children and an interesting job where he’d been a success, but now eluding death seemed to have become the central business of his life and bodily decay his entire story.” There are some great turns of phrase — the Everyman’s pervasive contempt cannot be reprinted here — but the vanity and cruelty of this man render him and his self-pitying tale inert.

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Everyman

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