Everything is over for Simon Axler, the protagonist of Philip Roth's startling new book. A leading American actor of his generation, Simon has lost his magic, his talent, and his assurance. When he goes on stage he feels like a lunatic. His confidence has drained away; he imagines people laughing at him. His wife has gone, his audience has left him, and his agent can't persuade him to make a comeback. Into this shattering account of terrifying self-evacuation bursts a counterplot of unusual erotic desire, a consolation so risky and aberrant that it points toward a darker and more shocking end. In this long day's journey into night, told with Roth's inimitable urgency, bravura, and gravity, all the ways that we persuade ourselves of our solidity, all our life's performances, talent, love, sex, hope, energy, reputation, are stripped off.