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"With the lover everyday life recedes," Roth writes—and exhibiting all his skill as a brilliant observer of human passion, he presents in Deception the tightly enclosed world of adulterous intimacy with a directness that has no equal in American fiction. At the center of Deception are two adulterers in their hiding place. He is a middle-aged American writer named Philip, living in London, and she is an articulate, intelligent, well-educated Englishwoman compromised by a humiliating marriage to which, in her thirties, she is already nervously half-resigned. The book's action consists of conversation—mainly the lovers talking to each other before and after making love. That dialogue—sharp, rich, playful, inquiring, "moving," as Hermione Lee writes, "on a scale of pain from furious bafflement to stoic gaiety"—is nearly all there is to this book, and all there needs to be.
though I’ve tried to disguise it. And also there’s only one nightclub that we belong to and I think it’s very dull and middle-aged. I mean very very middle-aged. It’s people taking whores there. I say this because it’s necessary to understand the story. But the fact of the story is that we went to a dinner party with old friends, all rather laid back and left wing. Hangovers from the late sixties. People who never really grew up – most of them never married or had children. There was a very
how to cope with someone like this. She’d come from Akron, the first destroyer, very bloozy and blowsy and feisty, and there was no way he could cope with her.’ ‘How come you never told me all this?’ ‘I wanted to forget about my money-mad mother. I wanted to forget my missing father. I didn’t want to carry on, like the college girls in the dormitory, endlessly and boringly about my family. I was above that. I wanted to carry on endlessly about “The Blood of the Walsungs” and “Michael Kohlhaas”
there, who you don’t actually want to do violence to – you just want to smear their faces like paint.’ ‘You’re more aggressive than I am.’ ‘Why do all these Slavs come to see you?’ ‘Czechs aren’t Slavs.’ ‘Well, why do you see all these Czechs and Slavs?’ ‘Why they come to me and why I see them are different questions.’ ‘Why do you see them?’ ‘I like them.’ ‘Better than the English.’ ‘Wouldn’t you?’ ‘Why? Because they suffer so much? Are you that in love with suffering?’ ‘I’m interested
he make of our deceiving your husband like this?’ ‘I never talk to him about you.’ ‘Never? Then he wasn’t getting the full story, was he, of these last four years?’ ‘You’ve simply distracted me from the central concerns of my life.’ ‘Oh? I was intended as a distraction all right, but it didn’t work out that way, you know. Because I became a temptation: a source of fantasy in the beginning, a source of possibility after that, and then, eventually, a disappointment.’ ‘Is that how you see
how did I come to get to know you. And if I slept with you. Imagine, I was only twenty-one. They just took me to their offices. To this building. Suddenly they were on my doorstep, showed me the badge, and took me away. I said to them, “I met him, I spoke to him, I liked him, that’s all.” They questioned me not very long, about an hour. One was sort of threatening and one was nice. You know, they have these roles. This was my first time. You always hear about these people in Czechoslovakia, but