[BOOKS] ✯ Call it Sleep ✴ Henry Roth – Iphoneleaks.co.uk



10 thoughts on “Call it Sleep

  1. says:

    If I read this in 1934 I would have thrown my socialist cap into the air and declared it to be genius But not now, friends, not now James Joyce s name crops up in reviews of this book all the time, but the similarities are superficial Stream of consciousness, yep, that s about it Don t misunderestimate me through, Henry Roth is a very remarkable writer But reading him gave me the same feelings the coffee shop manager has towards Phoebe s singing in Friends Don t you like Phoebe s singing I m not saying she s bad, but she makes me want to stick my fingers through my eyes into my brain and swirl them round and round The stuff of the kid s life in Call it Sleep is mindbendingly dull, oh so very very dull, you are aching for an overladen truck full of anchovies or Tabasco sauce to swerve round the corner of 4th Street and for one just one crate to topple off and splat the little bugger flat on the sidewalk, just to put him out of his misery But alas, this does not happen But, you know, Henry Roth is a very great writer Although except for the dialogue, which is how can I put this grotesquely tiresome Every scene you ve gone through many times already in other books, other movies, other past lives, other beermats And no one has any fun at all, it s like fun was invented in 1935, yeah, that s right, the year AFTER Call it Sleep was published Okay, Jewish immigrant, Lower East Side, turn of the century, sure, fun was in short supply But surely you could find little tiny hints of it occasionally, maybe some rich guy dropped a bit of fun on the street I dunno Maybe we should create a goodreads Miseryometer for this kind of book Angela s Ashes could be the gold standard This one scores a strong 9.0 on the Angela s Ashes scale But who said literature should be a barrel of donkeys Nobody I just like a glimpse of one cheeky little donkey now and then PS I just checked other GR reviews of this wow, am I out on a limb Well, you gotta tell em like you finds em.


  2. says:

    I fell in love with the boy in this book Proust, pay attention A serious child who loves his mama doesn t have to whine And this kid faced much adversity than having to go to bed during dinner parties Back when NKOTB still signed posters for squealing girls, I lived for sleeping over at a friend s house Most of my friends attended the same church I did, but didn t live for church They were allowed to breathe and have two piece bathing suits I was not My parents lived like a light on a very high hill, a mountain really, and though you could see our shining example for miles, miles I was oxygen deprived and craved color Sleepovers were times of reckless abandonment for me, and by reckless abandonment I mean watching Ferris Bueller s Day Off without permission it wouldn t have been granted anyhow and swimming in neighborhood pools full of boys past dark and thinking that maybe, if I was lucky, sin would present itself Coming up for a deep breath of glorious air after trying to talk to my friend through the chlorinated water, I d see things poolside through kaleidoscope vision If it was dark the street lights over the fence would be nothing but fuzzy glowing orbs Walking home, everything was comfortably hazy and muted And when I think of the memories from my childhood, this is the way I see them, with the edges rubbed off So, it was not difficult for me to adapt myself to the stream of consciousness narrative regarding the boy here He was seeing things and recording them alongside his feelings before being able to understand them or explain them And when he was alone he d take these small streaks of experiences back out of his brain and sift through them, matching them up with things he d heard his mother or aunt say, turning the tumblers in his mind until a click of recognition, and he d suddenly realize under what category this experience should be filed The boy has a category for his father stark, severe, brutal A category for his mother soft, kind, laughter A category for things he wants to know about Hebrew, Isaiah, fire, his apartment in regards to the city, why his father hates him, the basement He s got categories galore There are levels here to the boy s childhood and development that Roth captures perfectly Absolutely perfection And then there s the dialect The dialect almost derailed me at times Paragraphs and paragraphs of dialogue, much of which I had to read aloud three or four times like Eliza Doolittle with marbles in her mouth before getting things right But there was humor And it was the humor, the black humor, that saved me I marked the numerous Yiddish curses shouted to try to work them into my verbal repetoire I loved those curses They were an affirmation of life I would write about the spiritual imagery present in the book, the lure of the cross for a boy who gets beaten by a man waiting for a Messiah to come in glorious violence and avenge him his sufferings, but it would take too long and I d become entangled But it is there, hiding in the corners, waiting for the reader to dig at it and uncover a revelation.


  3. says:

    Call It Sleep is a profound tale about all sorts of child s fears Bereft of father s love David has no choice but to become a mummy s boy And he finds himself standing on the threshold of the hostile, inimical and indifferent world Relieved by slight flurries in traffic from his father s smouldering eye, David stared unhappily at the houses gliding past the doorway He felt strange feverish almost Whether it was that he had been staring down into the cellar too long, or whether because his fear of his father clouded and distorted all the things he saw, he could not tell But he felt as though his mind had slackened its grip on realities The houses, pavements, teams, people on the street no longer had that singleness and certainty about them that they had had before Solidities baffled him now, eluded him with a veiled shifting of contour He could not wholly identify even the rhythm and the clap of hooves something alien and malign had fused with all the familiar sounds and sights of the world.And to escape isolation David desperately needs someone he can lean on The hour that had passed had been one of the most blissful in David s life He had never wanted to be anyone s friend until this moment, and now he would have given anything to be Leo s The longer he heard him speak, the longer he watched him, the he became convinced that Leo belonged to a rarer, bolder, carefree world There was a glamour about him He did what he pleased and when he pleased He was not only free of parents, but he also wore something about his neck that made him almost god like Sitting next to him, David s one concern had been how to ingratiate himself, how to keep Leo amused, keep him from remembering that time was passing But instead of finding friendship David finds himself being used so there are no restrictions to his despair Children are like litmus paper they at once react to all family troubles and they suffer most.


  4. says:

    After 20 years of attempting to break open this novel Call It Sleep by Henry Roth, I have finally finished it, thanks to a challenge Once I finally was able to deal with the long sections written in dialect form something I find very difficult to read , deal with the interspersed writings in Yiddish as well as other languages also written in a dialect a double whammy , I discovered an amazing novel.A breathtaking, horrifying, gorgeous novel poem, journalism, stream of conscious, realist, psychological, social impossible to define I can t say I ever found it easier to read I can say I found it impossible to stay away from The only way I could read it was by becoming deeply immersed in it, reading carefully line by line, word by word even.The story is of a Jewish family, immigrants from Poland and one major theme of the text is the immigrant experience They, as are most of the people living around them, are dislocated, cut off not only from family and friends and familiar landscapes but from their culture, their very language Their speech is reproduced in dialect only when they are attempting to speak in English, in their native Yiddish the speech is rendered in perfect English, showing us their ease and eloquence in their mother tongue The story is also that of the streets of the Lower East Side, surrounded by tenements, overcrowded, teeming with people, life, clashing cultures, children adrift in families unmoored from their past and still unattached to their brilliant Poverty is almost the least of their problems Dirt, smells, noise unbelievable noise of trolleys and trains and people screaming hollering , a word I haven t heard since my father died, to each other, at each other, pushing, fighting All I remember as a child shopping on Delancey Street on a Sunday back then, only the Jewish stores on the Lower East Side of Manhattan were allowed to be open on Sundays and I remember the terrifying crowds, loud, shoving and my terror that I would be separated from my parents.The story is also a very personal one of three years in the life a boy aged 6 9 , whose father is often violent, paranoid to a clinical degree, who shouts, rages and beats the child who turns desperately to his gentle, adoring mother who, unable to speak English and thus even isolated than the father, turns to her son as well as her emotional lifeline The boy, David, is sensitive, gifted very likely to some extent a portrait of the author, Henry Roth.Published originally in 1934, the book was barely noticed It is now considered an American classic I wish I could quote from the book but it seems impossible to convey its power through any one sentence or paragraph The book works in rhythmic sections that in an almost musical way resonate off, contrast with, and highlight aspects of the work in a way that resists easy description.A difficult work still but one that pays off close reading many times over This book was well worth the effort I put into reading it I am grateful I did not give up on it, even after so many years I feel as though through its reading I have been changed, both as a reader and as a human being.


  5. says:

    The weather for the last two days has been spectacular Not a cloud in the rich blue sky, the temperature sitting at a perfect 72 degrees, with a gentle ten miles an hour breeze How do I know I looked it up on weather.com No, I did not go out this weekend I was reading I even had to make a numbah one, as it is described by the young boy in this novel, for the last four hours of it But I could not I was reading I, for some very odd reason, am stuck in a period in which I never existed That would be from the mid 1800 s to the early 1900 s And most of the time I find I am stuck in Britain Luckily, although this book was published in the early 1930 s, I am finally in America And I am glad to visit the country again And I am in the lower east side of Manhattan for a change No longer in Piccadilly, Lower Slaughter, or Southampton I jumped the pond as the English may refer to it.This book is not for everyone It is a story, partially, of the immigrants that flooded New York during the early part of the nineteenth century Its protagonist has an endearing name, David David is a young boy and we witness through his eyes the process of integrating and assimilating into this new world with others who have traveled here from other parts of the world However, we know, that this is a difficult transition for even the smartest and strongest of us And through the eyes of a child it is even interesting.It is layered, it is textured, it is engrossing It is not a simple escape It is not a quick read even if you read quickly I know, for me, much of the symbolism has escaped my limited cranial capacity But the little I did understand I am still crunching There is a lot going on here As one might guess, there are relatives, and parents, and neighbors and all the havoc you would expect if you were to come here during this period, go through the intimidating agency on Ellis Island, and decide to live near Manhattan.This author, who many may not have heard of previously, Henry Roth, is no slouch He is in the camp of elites, such as some of the Old Russians, the Hemingway s, Bellows, etc So, for you who may like hidden symbolism and the art of fine literature, it may be a choice Most of characters are Jewish immigrants, and although any culture has their own unique challenges, miens with the current zeitgeist, a familiarity with Judaism lessens the heft of the tale For me, I like reading about all people from any place in any situation Let me also add, that Roth is wide, not narrow There are references to Christianity and other faiths hidden within his passages Roth is ecumenical and inclusive, but his clues are not always obvious.So, okay, four to four and a half stars from your guide here And if you follow me and what I read, I can suggest several doctors to you Especially eye doctors and psychologists and philosophers Just give me a ring, and you too can come and wander the variegated unknowns in life with me.


  6. says:

    I m not sure what to make of 450 pages told through the eyes of a 6 8 year old child, with a child s thoughts, a child s understanding and a child s limited understanding The story is told in 3 styles the straightforward English style being the parts where people are speaking Yiddish, the phonetic dialect parts to supposedly show how difficult it is for immigrants to understand English and stream of consciousness style of David s thoughts a child s thoughts The phonetic sections were difficult to get through and I didn t find that the three styles melded well It made the story uneven David is withdrawn, nervous, gets spooked by a look He s a mama s boy of a kid This is his story of life in the Lower East Side of New York A book told through his eyes, at his age, isn t riveting Quite honestly, there isn t a story here just a kid s life in New York Pleasant enough in some ways but with no plot, no story, no ending..just 3 years of a kid s life.


  7. says:

    All the beauty of Joyce with none of his pretension, accessible and poetic, spiritual and religious By far my most intense reading experience.


  8. says:

    To read Call It Sleep, one wouldn t automatically assume that it was published in 1934 There s a timelessness to the story, and the writing smells modern and familiar I would have sworn it was published in the 70s or 80s and was just going to be a nice work of historical fiction I m think it is interesting to note that it was published during the Great Depression in America, and I wonder if that accounts for the lack of sales during its time Perhaps readers weren t ready for it, perhaps it was too close to home for readers to feel comfortable with it Who knows but they definitely missed out.This is a story of immigration focusing on an Austrian Jewish family who have just come to America The father, Albert, has been there for some time in order to begin to create a new American life for his wife, Genya, and son, David The story is primarily David s story, told from his third person perspective He is close to his mother, perhaps abnormally close, and for as close as he is to Genya he is just as removed from his father.Some readers may be turned off by the fact that this book has 448 pages and is primarily entirely about David s experiences to assimilate to his environment his struggles to be understood by his neighbors, his strong desire to be accepted by his peers, etc His physical fear of his father creates enough anxiety about staying home with his mother, but often the streets fare little better His self confidence is low and it oozes from the pages just how much he wants to belong.I ve seen comparisons of this book to James Joyce All I can say to that is UGH I do not and will not hide the fact that I dislike what I have read by Joyce, and any comparison to his writing could easily turn me off from something else Luckily I forged through the Introduction where the comment about Joyce comes up I can see the relationship, particularly towards the end of Call It Sleep as the reader is taken on a stream of consciousness adventure with David but this change in text actually works and feels like an appropriate choice on the part of the author something I can not say with any certainty I feel Joyce accomplished But to each their own.Roth was able to capture the sounds, the smells, the sights, the milieu of New York City in the early 20th century I felt like I could understand the immigrant experience, I did not feel that far removed from how a 6 7 8 year old immigrant boy felt in this brand new country he had just been thrown into I was connected to the story the same I way I felt connected to Herman Wouk s City Boy which I had to read in high school It s like Roth took that story and exploded it, put it up on a big screen TV for an entire football stadium to see This doesn t bonk City Boy off my list of favorites necessarily, but I do recognize that Call It Sleep does manage to be an adult version much like Tom Sawyer is good, but Huck Finn is just a bit mature.


  9. says:

    This book is incredible I ve never read anything like it I was expecting an immigrant experience story, a sort of American Tail rife with descriptions of seders and gefilte fish the way Mama used to make and so forth This is NOT that This book is completely original, intensely personal, and very disturbing Disturbing not because of a specific event e.g., rape, abuse, etc though those things, or at least close relatives of those things, do happen , but because, for the 400 or so pages of the book, you re made to look at the world in such a strange and horrifying way, and this view of the world seems so real, like it couldn t possibly have been invented by some author experimenting with character and style meaning that somewhere, out there, there is someone for whom this is real life.


  10. says:

    Probably the best immigrant novel ever written.


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download Call it Sleep, read online Call it Sleep, kindle ebook Call it Sleep, Call it Sleep f20f6026e1f5 When Henry Roth Published Call It Sleep, His First Novel, In , It Was Greeted With Critical Acclaim But In That Dark Depression Year, Books Were Hard To Sell, And The Novel Quickly Dropped Out Of Sight, As Did Its Twenty Eight Year Old Author Only With Its Paperback Publication In Did The Novel Receive The Recognition It Deserves Call It Sleep Was The First Paperback Ever To Be Reviewed On The Front Page Of The New York Times Book Review, And It Proceeded To Sell Millions Of Copies Both In The United States And Around The World Call It Sleep Is The Magnificent Story Of David Schearl, The Dangerously Imaginative Child Coming Of Age In The Slums Of New York