A while ago, I was talking with a French friend of mine who did a one-year research stint in the U.S. The people seemed so strangely, robotically cheerful, he thought he was "living in Disneyland." As a corrective, here are excerpts of a recent interview with Philip Roth, who actually is American:
[Interviewer Martin Krasnik] "Are you satisfied with your life?" I ask.
P: "Eight years ago I attended a memorial ceremony for an author," he says. "An incredible man full of life and humour, curiosity. He worked for a magazine here in New York. He had girlfriends, mistresses. And at this memorial ceremony there were all these women. Of all ages. And they all cried and left the room, because they couldn’t stand it. That was the greatest tribute …"
M: "What will the women do at your funeral?"
P. "If they even show up … they will probably be screaming at the casket."