October 23, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT
We gave it a B

Philip Roth’s slim new novel concerns the curious case of a legendary stage actor who appears to be storming through his 60s when he suddenly freezes up and loses his power to pretend. It’s a surprising subject for Roth. The guy may be 76, but he’s been on an audacious hot streak for a dozen years. The Humbling largely deals with the disconsolate actor’s affair with a much younger lesbian. It’s a good, not great, book — an entertaining inquiry into the relationship between sex and creativity, sex and age, and sex and the ego. (See a theme?) There are some sparks here, but momentarily at least, Roth seems to have lost his own ability to perform. B

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