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Allen Drury
Philip Roth, on writing and being ticked off

IN PERSON, 75-year-old Philip Roth seems anything but indignant. Seated on a couch in the inner sanctum of his agent's office, he is soft-spoken, prone to long, thoughtful pauses. Even his clothing -- khaki pants, brown shoes, an Oxford shirt with a light check -- is almost strikingly nondescript. Where, one wonders, is the fire-breathing ventriloquist of "Portnoy's Complaint" or the self-reflexive vaudevillian of the Zuckerman trilogy? The answer is the same as always: on the page. Roth's latest work of fiction is "Indignation" (Houghton Mifflin: 256 pp., $26). Like many of its predecessors, it contains more than its share of mounting wrath. As we begin...

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