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Publisher's Summary

Patrimony, a true story, touches the emotions as strongly as anything Philip Roth has ever written. Roth watches as his 86-year-old father - famous for his vigor, his 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.

Philip Roth is hailed by many as the reigning king of American fiction. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, this memoir about love, survival, and memory is one of his most intimate books, but also one of his most intellectually vigorous. Patrimony is Roth's elegy to his father, written with piercing observation and wit at the height of his literary prowess.

©2016 Philip Roth (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Patrimony

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You must not forget anything

"Even the bast@rds die. That's about the only good thing you can say about death--it gets the sons of b!tches, too."
- Herman Roth, quoted Philip Roth, Patrimony

One of two memoirs/autobiographical works Roth completed. It seemed appropriate to start reading this on Father's Day the year Roth himself died. It was touching, beautiful. It is something as I get older I'm dealing with in my own family and at work. I have clients with tumors progressing. I have a grandmother (my last surviving grandparent) who is struggling in her 80s. Life starts to both warp as you age and become suddenly VERY clear. There are these moments of mortality when you suddenly GET your father or your mother. Caring for them, you become aware not only of their life, but even more aware of your own. Staring into the void is both scary and thrilling. Dying is hard. Living is hard. And in the end you feel like you can't forget. "You must not forget anything."

15 people found this helpful

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Surprisingly beautiful

One of his best! Very heartfelt and loving towards his father and perfectly balanced.
The end.😀

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Moving and compelling.

Not sure I can add more than what has been already said.

Except brilliant reading by Malcolm Hillgartner. He along with Roth made the people and emotions come to life for me.

Additionally having lost my father over 20 years ago and my mother five years ago, Patrimony is recommended in thinking back to those losses.

1 person found this helpful

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Good Memoir, Special Last Times with His Dad

This was very interesting. It was written very well & had excellent narration. Listening to the author dealing with his elderly father. . I couldn't help but think of my own parents, who have been gone & very much missed. The Author seemed to make the best of the time he had left with his dad. I hope the good memories are stronger than the bad. Very thoughtfully written. Thank you.

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  • 10-12-21

A beautiful description by a son of his father’s last year

This is a touching, yet neither sentimental nor sweet, account of his father’s last year or so, as he was aging and losing his functioning abilities to perform certain functions. Clearly there is a lot of love and respect between the two and their deepening relationship is touching. Expecting more criticism and sarcasm from Roth, made this “eyes wide open” description even more touching in its lack of judge-mental barbs at his father, at aging or at the anecdotes he relates. I thoroughly enjoyed this listen!

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Better than Roth’s fiction

The narrator is so spot on that he manages to make even Phillip Roth seem reasonable and somewhat likable most of the time. Nevertheless, the almost constant focus on “Jewishness” eventually becomes more than tiresome, maybe even irritating and for me at least, sometimes gets in the way of Roth’s otherwise superb writing style. Still, I enjoyed this book more than I have any of Roth’s fiction; it was extremely insightful as well as entertaining. I do recommend it.

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I am a daughter, not a son, but

i think this is the one book every son would have liked to write.
Hillgartner is, maybe, a tad too cynical or detached at times, bit this is a great performance anyway.
Philip Roth, I miss you.

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brilliant, lucid, moving

Phillip Roth's ability to present conversations with seemingly effortless fidelity continues to amaze me. Beautifully performed

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Didn’t want it to end

A beautiful story of a son’s devotion to his father in the last years of his life. A tribute to the complexity of a father and son’s love and relationship in the modern era.

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simple story but touching

I liked it but I was sure it will be better written, more special but it is very simple. basic stories but interesting and touching at the end

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  • august year
  • 05-07-22

A loving, heartfelt ode to a parent

It is unbelievable how Roth describes the progress of disease - something that so many people go through, with such insight and sharpness. I found strength in the way he speaks about his father and even though he describes him at one point as ‘enfeebled’, I mainly saw him as dignified and likeable. There are so many touching ways in which he takes care of his father: at one point washing excrement out of his own hair after an accident. Roth articulates what most mortals can’t even acknowledge in their deepest thoughts.

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  • james walker
  • 03-20-22

To be alive is to be made of memories

Roth's memoir focuses on his relationship with his father who is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.

His father has an incredible memory and ability to make connections between people and place. Although this may seem trivial or gossipy at first glance it actually gives his life solidity and purpose. As Roth observes, 'You mustn't forget anything, that's the inscription on his coat of life. To be alive to him is to be made of memory.'

Roth is brutally honest about his complex relationship with his father from the difficulties of personal care to his regret at requesting to be removed from his father's will. Given his success as a writer, it made sense for the will to be split between siblings for whom it would make a difference. This was partly motivated out of good intentions as well as the chance to take the 'moral highground'. But as his father's death looms, Roth regrets his impetousness, seeing the money as authentic, the last connection with his farher, and 'a chunk of his hard working hind'.

Although memoir, this reads very much like a Roth novel.

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  • a.hopewell
  • 09-17-17

Glimpse of true family emotions

I became absorbed into the narrator's honest, emotional account of his father's last year's. I was able to identify with his main protagonist, his very complex father.
I was very moved by the tender, raw emotions laid bare. Very cleverly written; I was very tearful at the conclusion of Philip Roth's moving account of his father's death. I was also aware of the humorous theme running through the story. I recommend highly.
P.Hopewell

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  • Lyn Bender
  • 01-19-22

Powerful and. Moving. Poignant and funny

I loved this testimony to existential reality. The only good thing about death is that it gets us all . Even the bastards.
A nd the wisdom of how hard it is to buy a (good cantaloupe . Harder than buying a house or a car. You sniff it press it ,take it home and it’s hard and without flavour. Not like an apple. You can’t see inside it. Roth is an undervalued writer