September 7, 2009
Inside Every Don Draper Is Alexander Portnoy
If you don’t watch Mad Men, and haven’t read or don’t know about Phillip Roth’s novel Portnoy’s Complaint, this doesn’t mean anything to you.
If you do, and have, these two guys seem as far apart as any two white men inhabiting New York in the sixties could reasonably be.
And yet, there’s something about Draper and Portnoy’s shared desire to jump out of history (the history of the world, the history of their own families), their sense that this is the time to do it, and that sex and language are the mechanisms to do so, that pulls the two together. If they met, I think they’d have a lot to say to each other.
(Inspired by this 40th-anniversary article about Portnoy’s Complaint in the Guardian.)