When Roth “talks about getting a story right he does so, like any craftsman, with a practical understanding of the materials he uses and the techniques needed to get the job done. In The Ghost Writer, the ageing writer, EI Lonoff, tells 23-year-old Nathan Zuckerman, the most disabused of Roth’s stand-ins, that he “has the most compelling voice I’ve encountered in years. I don’t mean style… I mean voice: something that begins at around the back of the knees and reaches well above the head.” Voice in this sense is the vehicle by which a writer expresses his aliveness and Roth himself is all voice. Style, in the formal, flowery sense, bores him; he has, he once wrote, “a resistance to plaintive metaphor and poeticised analogy”. His prose is immaculate yet curiously plain and unostentatious, as natural as breathing. Reading him, it’s always the story that’s in your face, never the style.
His voice sounds so spontaneous that the lazy reader might suppose he is listening to confession rather than reading a work of fiction.”