This is most certainly not among Roth’s best novels, but it does offer flashes of brilliance. Here’s what happens when the adolescent Nathan Zuckerman visits graduate student Leo Glucksman in his tiny room in a residence hall at the University of Chicago:
I felt like a girl, or what I imagined a girl felt like when she wound up alone with an intimidating boy who too obviously liked her breasts. Leo snorted to see me turn timorous, and with that same disgusted sneer with which he had undertaken to demolish my career in radio, he said, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to touch you. I just cannot bear that you should be so fucking conventional.” And then and there he proceeded to initiate an introduction to Soren Kierkegaard.