Narrated by Nathan Zuckerman, a novelist visiting the Berkshires who befriends the main protagonist, Coleman “Silky” Silk, The Human Stain
is the story of the unraveling of the life of a iconoclastic college
professor at the hands of small minded PC liberals. As the faculty dean
of Athena College, Coleman hired young, fresh blood, like Delphine
Roux, and alienated most of those he brought in with his obstinate
personal philosophies, until in 1998, they turn on him and exploit an
idiom to expel him from his true life’s work. When two students fail to
show up to class Silk asks, “Do they exist or are they spooks?” Later
it is discovered that the students, whom Silk has never seen, are
black, and they use the word ‘spook’ to file a fraudulent racism case
against the professor and the university. Silk rails against the
insufferable injustice of his expulsion and even blames the passing of
his wife on the shame the university has laid upon his name.

When Silk turns 71 he discovers Viagra, and an illiterate college
janitor named Faunia Farley who is half his age, igniting a passionate
affair that is eventually exposed by the jealous and scorned Delphine
Roux. ” I’m back in the tornado,” Silk decries.

Interspersed through the diaper wearing Zuckerman’s narration are the
details of Silk’s abandoned and covered up New Jersey upbringing as a
feather-weight boxer and pride and joy of a father who died early due
to health complications. It seems that, much like the love interest in
Francis Ford Coppola’s Cotton Club,
Silk has been disguising the fact that he is black, hence his sense of
outrage and indignation for being removed from his post for racial

Silk’s affair with Fauna eventually is his undoing as
her ex-husband is a mentally deranged Vietnam Vet, who refuses to allow
her to go on with her life after the accidental death of their
children. Roth is at his all time best here, delicately sketching these
characters from minute details that convey impressive depths of

If you like to read you should buy this book. If you have a hard time
with text and idea’s and you thought that English Lit was a huge chore
in college, you should skip this book and go straight for David Lee
Roth’s autobiography.

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