Patrimony: A True Story by Philip Roth is a 238-page hardcover published by Simon and Schuster, 1991. The dust jacket has very light shelf wear. The gray/blue clothbound hardcover is gilt lettered and the front cover is embossed with the author's initials. There is slight fading to the cloth cover and minor bumping to the head and tail of the spine. There is the previous owner's name "Becky" written in ink on the front free endpaper. The pages are clean and the binding is tight.
"I don't want to argue with anybody, I never argue. If I tell her something, I only tell it to her for her own good. If she doesn't want to listen, the hell with her." That's the voice of Herman Roth, 86 years old, widower, retired insurance manager, suffering from a brain tumor and fighting death. It's the voice of Philip Roth's most irrepressible and irresistible hero yet, the vernacular speech of the father who created him and whom now he re-creates in a remarkable act of memory, elegy, and appreciation.
The novelist Philip Roth watches as his self-disciplined, blunt, irascible, unrelenting progenitor, famous for his vigor, his charm, and his repertoire of Newark recollections, does battle with the ignominy and helplessness of old age. 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 distinguishes his father's long, stubborn engagement with life.
Against all the odds, Patrimony is also a surprisingly comic story. Around the father is a gang of brilliantly vivid Jewish elders: Lil, Herman's last and much-maligned love, who can't even open a can of soup to his satisfaction; his roommate Bill, who can hear the Marine band tunes he used to play in World War One being played inside his teeth; the aged musicians at his Florida condominium whose performance of a Hayden quartet is "as alarming as it was heroic"; the Auschwitz memoirist Walter with his extraordinary manuscript...and always at the center of it all, Herman, defiant, tenacious, desolated, at the end of his life still striving to prevail.