Patrimony: A True Story
Patrimony, a true story, touches the emotions as strongly as anything Philip Roth has ever written. Roth watches as his eighty-six-year-old father—famous for his vigor, charm, and his repertoire of Newark recollections—battles with the brain tumor that will kill him. The son, full of love, anxiety, and dread, accompanies his father through each fearful stage of his final ordeal, and, as he does so, discloses the survivalist tenacity that has distinguished his father’s long, stubborn engagement with life.
With the honesty of a skilled biographer and the sensitivity of a caring son, Roth chronicles the life of his father, Herman, in this gripping work which won a 1991 National Book Critics Circle Award. Roth holds little back in describing his father as a man of rare intensity and fierce independence who, for better or worse, stood by his principles and held others to his own rigorous standards. Writes Roth, “His obsessive stubbornness—his stubborn obsessiveness—had very nearly driven my mother to a breakdown in her final years.” Frank throughout, Roth calls his father “a pitiless realist, but I wasn’t his offspring for nothing, and I could be pretty realistic, too.”