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The Birth of Portnoy

In response to:

It Happened One Night from the July 19, 2007 issue

To the Editors:

I don’t think your correction in the August 16 issue of The New York Review—“In Al Alvarez’s review of Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach [NYR, July 19], it should have been made clear that an excerpt from Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint appeared in the New American Review in 1967, not 1971”—went quite far enough. It should also have been clear that the New American Review had not, as Alvarez claimed, “introduced Portnoy to the world.” It was Esquire magazine, in April of 1967, that had that honor, with “A Jewish Patient Begins His Analysis.” Alexander Portnoy (identified as Alex) made his next appearance in August of 1967 in Partisan Review, in “Whacking Off.” It wasn’t until the following month, in September of 1967, that Alexander Portnoy made his appearance in the first issue of New American Review, in “The Jewish Blues.”

Mark Keshishian

New York City

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