Why Write?, the tenth volume of the Library of America’s conspectus of Philip Roth’s oeuvre, is subtitled Collected Nonfiction 1960–2013, and if there is anything regrettable about it, it is that it could not extend to 2017. Roth has declared that, after thirty-one books, he is through with writing fiction, but can’t he give us more of his valuable nonfiction?

At this point, lest it be overestimated, let me state what connection I have to him. I first met him at dinner chez Robert Brustein, the theater critic, at which he was enormously entertaining, making fun of two hapless female writers for The New York Times. Years later, we collided at the counter of Tower Records, paying for our respective purchases. I was short a nickel, which...


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