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My brother's reading list


Discovering the world of literature
Philip Roth Writer
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But I'd go to the library, and then a few years later when I had a bicycle, I'd bicycle to the library after school. It was about two miles away, and I'd load the basket on the bicycle up with books, and bring them home. I probably was imitating my brother, because he... he had done that, but I had the desire, and I began to read. Of course, what I read were kids' books. There was one writer in particular that I was fond of named Howard Pese, P E S E; he was, he wrote about the sea, and they were adventure stories for boys.

A few years ago I became curious about Pese; I thought of him, and I ordered about half a dozen of his books off the internet to see what they would be like to read. And I had a good time with them — they were good, they were good. They're boys' adventure stories, full of mystery, full of fog in San Francisco Harbor, and so on.

As time moved on, I began to read the books of Howard Fast. Howard Fast was a popular... a popular writer in the '40s, and he wrote about American historical moments. He has a book about the battle at Valley Forge called Conceived in Liberty; he has a book about... called Citizen Tom Paine about Tom Paine, and so on.  And they were very left-wing; I didn't know this as a kid, but Fast was a Communist, and I believe he also wrote for The Daily Worker, which was the... the daily of the Communist party, so this was a kind of Marxist slant on American history.  And I... I gobbled it up, probably in about the seventh or eighth grade.


The fame of the American writer Philip Roth (1933-2018) rested on the frank explorations of Jewish-American life he portrayed in his novels. There is a strong autobiographical element in much of what he wrote, alongside social commentary and political satire. Despite often polarising critics with his frequently explicit accounts of his male protagonists' sexual doings, Roth received a great many prestigious literary awards which include a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1997, and the 4th Man Booker International Prize in 2011.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Conceived in Liberty, Valley Forge, Citizen Tom Paine, Daily Worker, Howard Pease, Howard Fast, Thomas Paine

Duration: 2 minutes, 5 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2011

Date story went live: 18 March 2013