Eyebrows of Understanding

pic0304-roth004-7024282 As a woman and a person, I’m often asked to defend my fondness for alleged misogynist, Philip Roth. And here’s my answer:

“What’s a fourchette?” I asked. “The part of the glove between the fingers. Those small oblong pieces between the fingers, they’re die-cut along with the thumbs—those are the fourchettes. Today you’ve got a lot of underqualified people, probably don’t know half what I knew when I was five, and they’re making some pretty big decisions. A guy buying deerskin, which can run up to maybe three dollars and fifty cents a food for a garment grade, he’s buying this fine garment-grade deerskin to cut a little palm patch to go on a pair of ski gloves. I talked to him just the other day. A novelty part, runs about five inches by one inch, and he pays three fifty a foot where he could have paid a dollar fifty a food and come out a long, long ways ahead. You multiply this over a large order, you’re talking a hundred-thousand-dollar mistake, and he never knew it. He could have put a hundred grand in his pocket”
Whatever Roth or his characters think about women, he writes paragraphs like that. If he weren’t such a gifted novelist, he’d make a hell of a copy writer. He’s able to turn the technical into the existential. What’s a little casual sexism compared with a good paragraph on gloves?