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About the Book

About the Book

The Dying Animal

"A man," says David Kepesh, "wouldn’t have two-thirds of the problems he has if he didn’t venture off to get fucked. It’s sex that disorders our normally ordered lives" [p. 33]. And no life was more ordered than Kepesh’s. Unmarried, unobligated, unattached, Kepesh lives just the way he wants to, confidently detached from what he views as illusions about romantic love, conventional pieties, and prevailing mainstream models of normalcy. Until he meets his beautiful student Consuela Castillo. Her breasts, her vagina, her hair, her skin, her youth, her clothes, her physical poise and emotional composure, her erotic self-assurance, her Cuban bourgeois background—taken together, everything Consuela is disarms this thinking man. Sustained virtually into his seventh decade by the orderly pursuit of pleasure in life and the arts, this master strategist of freedom is consumed by sex in its most anguishing form, undone for the first time ever by the monster of possessive jealousy.

Now eight years have passed since Consuela left him, the twentieth century has ended in a paroxysm of kitsch and unfulfilled apocalyptic fear, and David Kepesh is seventy, his prodigious erotic career nearing its own end. But he is spellbound by the memory of Consuela and the unmanageable passion that she inspired. The Dying Animal is his candid telling of their story, intermixed with thoughtful excursions into the pertinent subjects that come within the ken of his capacious mind—sexual jealousy, the sexual revolution, the turbulence of the sixties, the cage of family life, pornography, the American Puritan theocracy—and subjects like aging and dying that pertain to his immediate predicament. Who he is recounting his story to isn’t fully disclosed; one only knows that Kepesh is speaking meticulously and at length to someone in the room with him, either a woman or a man, who occasionally questions or comments on his story and who issues an ominous warning on the book’s final page when Consuela, seriously ill, is about to enter a hospital and Kepesh is confronted with a fateful choice about the resumption of their affair.

The third novel in the Kepesh series, The Dying Animal is both a tour de force of self-revelation and a brilliant reckoning of the full range of consequences, in one man’s life, of the sexual revolution.

The Dying Animal
by Philip Roth

  • Publication Date: July 9, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 037571412X
  • ISBN-13: 9780375714122