Sexy Sunday! Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth

WARNING! Today’s post contains explicit sexual language and profanity. Isn’t that awesome?

Today marks the first collaboration I’ve done with a fellow blogger, and I can’t tell you how simultaneously excited and amused I am to be doing this. The genesis of Sexy Sunday came from a post that Nicole at The Bookworm Drinketh (and my blogging soul sister) when we got to talking on a blog comment thread and had the idea of doing something together. She’d blogged one of those wanna-be sequels to Pride and Prejudice, and I made a snarky comment about chick-lit and how the only sequel to Pride and Prejudice that I’d ever been able to stomach had sex -and I mean, LOTS – of sex, which was the only redeeming quality in said book. One thing led to another and we decided to collaborate on a monthly post titled “Sexy Sunday,”Β  in which we’d read a book infamous for its sex scenes; I would do a foodie post based on the book and she’d do a cocktail post based on the same book. And here we are.

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Nicole and I will be doing a Sexy Sunday collaboration the first Sunday of each month on a book that features some truly hot, bizarre, insane or downright weird sex…….so please, do join us in our monthly deviance πŸ™‚ And once you’re done reading and commenting on today’s perverted post, head over to Nicole’s website and read her post on this book.

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So, Portnoy’s Complaint.Β I am no prude.Β  Ask any of my ex-boyfriends…..or actually, maybe you shouldn’t. OK, this book, as funny as it is in many parts, is just gross. I’m sure it has all this deep cultural, philosophical and psychological meaning. However, being that the main character Alexander Portnoy, though a grown man of 33, is also dealing with memories of his very Jewish-on-the-East-Coast teen years, in which he literally wanted to fuck every single thing in the world, it’s essentially well-written smut.

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Seriously. There’s a lot of mom/castration guilt referred to in this book as he does this massive information dump to his therapist (and really, can you get more East Coast Jewish than dumping all your twisted teenage masturbation sex fantasies to a shrink?) so you could argue that it’s uber-Freudian on one level. Personally, I see it as a grown man’s never-ending whine about how he wasn’t suckled enough as a baby and has turned this oral fixation outward and becomes – inwardly – a raging sex maniac. In short, it’s EVERY TEENAGE BOY’S STORY. I do wonder how this book was lionized by so many when I personally didn’t find it all that great, but perhaps if the majority of people who reviewed it were themselves men reliving their horny youth, it makes a twisted kind of sense.

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Roth died this past May, and though eulogized as the last of the great white literary lions along with Joseph Heller and Norman Mailer, I think he – and yes, I’m going there – blew his literary wad with this book. However, I don’t like misogynists and the one thing that stands out in this book and his other works is his deep and abiding contempt for women, even as much as he sexually desires them. Well, many men see women like that, and it’s understandable if you’re looking at things from a Freudian viewpoint. That being said, it’s also incredibly self-indulgent as an adult to blame every single woman who comes through your life for the actions of one, whether it’s blaming women for how your mother treated you as a child; or making post-marital relationships pay the price for what one horrible ex-wife did while you were married. (And yes, RP, I’m talking to you.)

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As Woody Allen once proclaimed, “Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.” (Another East Coast Jewish male….coincidence? I think not.)Β  Anyway, in addition to the massive amounts of masturbation, self-love, onanism, jerking off, spanking the monkey and all the other euphemisms for getting oneself off,Β  there are also some interesting mentions of food in conjunction with Portnoy’s fetishes. Warning: this passage is quite explicit.

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At the Saturday afternoon movie I would leave my friends to go off to the candy machine – and wind up in a distant balcony seat, squirting my seed into the empty wrapper from a Mounds bar. On an outing of our family association, I once cored an apple, saw to my astonishment…….what it looked like, and ran off into the woods to fall upon the orifice of the fruit, pretending that the cool and mealy hole was actually between the legs of that mythical being who always called me Big Boy when she pleaded for what no girl in all recorded history had ever had. “Oh shove it in me, Big Boy,” cried the cored apple that I banged silly on that picnic. “Big Boy, Big boy, oh give me all you’ve got,” begged the empty milk bottle that I kept hidden………”Come, Big Boy, come,” screamed the maddened piece of liver that…….I bought one afternoon at a butcher shop and……….violated behind a billboard on the way to a bar mitzvah lesson.

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See? I told you. Anyway, don’t you just crave some type of apple dessert after reading that passage? Me, too! Portnoy’s mother, in addition to her many other quirks, is constantly referred to as an amazing cook, baking a cake that tastes like a banana, so here goes with my foodie take, an apple and banana cake. I left off the cream frosting, though, as I’m sure you can understand why.

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INGREDIENTS
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large apples, any type. I chose a Gala, a Red Delicious, and a Granny Smith.
3 large, ripe bananas, mashed
1 stick butter or 8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup, melted
3 eggs and 1 egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

METHOD
Peel two of the apples, core all three of them, and chop them. I left the Gala unpeeled, to have those pretty red bits peeking out.

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Heat the oven to 350F.Β Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda in a large bowl.

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In the mixing bowl of your most awesome red Kitchen Aid, gently mix together the vanilla, the eggs and egg yolk, and add the melted butter.

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Fold in the chopped apples and mashed bananas.

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One spoonful at a time, add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix together, using the paddle attachment, then add the pecans and mix again.

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Spray a 9 x 13 springform pan with baking spray and use a pan liner if you have one.Β  Pour in the batter and bake for 60-65 minutes. It’s a moist cake, so bake a bit longer to ensure the center is cooked completely through. The ol’ toothpick test works well here.

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Let cool.Β  My cake, unfortunately, did not cook completely through the center, so I had to cut out a large circular chunk, and being the creative person I am, I filled in the space with fresh raspberries.Β As I’ve said before, no one is ever going to suggest I quit my day job and decorate cakes full time. And I am ok with that. Serve plain, or if you must have cream with your apples a la Alexander Portnoy, go full-on phallic and spray some Redi-Whip on top. Go on, big boy!

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21 thoughts on “Sexy Sunday! Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth

  1. I’m loving this idea that you and The Bookworm Drinketh have come up with, and look forward to checking out your respective blogs for Sexy Sunday posts! Thanks for reading Portnoy’s complaint for me – I think I’ll pass. Maybe the novelty of it in the time period when it was first published is what has given this book its reputation….And thanks for not putting any frosting on that cake!πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Leslie! We really are having a good time with it, finding books that fit our category. LOL! I’m with you on Portnoy – I really don’t get all the literary hype. I suppose if you can get past all the gross sexual references, it has some good writing but it’s not GREAT writing, in my humble opinion. I personally loathe all of Philip Roth’s literary canon, as I find him the biggest misogynist and pervert. I think you’re right that at the time this book came out, it was so “in your face” with the self-love references and the scatological references and the mom guilt that people gave it much more credit than it deserves. But the apple passage is infamously classic. And you’re welcome……..cream on top of that cake would just have blown. πŸ™‚ LMAO! Sorry, I had to go there.

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  2. You had me howling with laughter, and as I realized where you were going with the dessert (see, I didn’t peak ahead) I found myself hoping you weren’t going to serve it with a creme anglaise or some other white glaze, so I practically snorted when you made the comment out the creamy frosting and
    “I’m sure you can understand why.”

    Very well done!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I confess to making myself laugh as I wrote this post so it makes me very happy to know that somebody else got a good laugh out of it to. Alexander Portnoy is quite a little pervert isn’t he? I would never in a million years dream of putting a cream topping on any dessert inspired by him. Lol! And I admit I am kind of off liver these days too. Coincidence?πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. How’d I miss this one? Your review had me laughing so hard I spit out coffee! “Blew his literary wad!” HAHAHAHAHAHAH! I read this back in college and found it pretty disgusting then, though also kind of sad how messed up his family dynamic is. But I do like the fact that you found some cooking inspiration from the infamous apple scene. Can’t wait to see what your next Sexy Sunday post brings.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ I agree with you that Alex was pretty whiny! And he definitely liked to blame everyone else for his perversions. “my mommy would put her stockings on in front of me and tell me I’m such a good boy, wah wah!!” πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have to say I truly enjoyef collaborating with you on this. Your post had me laughing so hard, and it was fun to try and imagine how you would view the book differently than me. I actually have an idea for next month. If you want to send me an email to: foodi books@gmail.com, I’ll suggest it and you can let me know what you think.

        Liked by 1 person

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