I think I'm giving this one 5 stars because I felt it spoke to me on a very fundamental level. I am, as was the main character in this book, a non-believer who has pondered deeply the concept of death, and its implications as one who does not subscribe to the idea of an afterlife.
When the main character witnessed the effusive emotions of someone at a funeral, he surmised the reasons for it:
"It's because life's most disturbing intensity is death. It's because death is so unjust. It's because once one has tasted life, death does not even seem natural."
I think we all feel like that on some level, although some of us suppress even thinking about it for as long as possible. Philip Roth brings it all out into the open and highlights the struggles within oneself when these thoughts come to the surface.
This is a story of a man who may have taken on the idea of death too late in life, regretting the decisions of his past, expressing unwarranted anger and resentment towards those in the present, and figuring out what the future should hold maybe just a little too late. It's a story that might help us to not get to the point of looking back on our lives with dissatisfaction when we arrive at the time when the end is near, but to live the lives we should, knowing that the end is not only inevitable and inescapable, but many times unexpected and beyond our control.