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APRIL 25, 2012
A Book We Love: Nemesis

At 79 years of age, Philip Roth has been called our greatest living American novelist. Still going strong (in fact, he has published 8 novels in the last 10 years!), Roth’s most recently published book is Nemesis. It’s a short novel that packs within its pages a vivid character and an almost forgotten slice of American history. It’s about a time toward the end of World War II when a health scare hits the country in the form of polio. Inexplicably, children get ill and many die. At the time, polio’s contagious nature isn’t understood and there is no medicine for it, let alone a vaccine. The hero of the story is Bucky Cantor, a physical education teacher and playground director who hopes to keep the young boys and girls who are spending their summer with him safe from harm. Ultimately, Bucky finds himself questioning his responsibilities to himself and his community as he ponders an offer of escape to a job at an upstate summer camp. The consequence of his decision is unexpectedly momentous and changes the course of the rest of his life.

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