Back Watch: Alec Baldwin reads Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America

Video: Alec Baldwin reads from The Plot Against America in New York City on Oct. 15, 2013. (3:32)

“Honey, I did what I did. That’s the end of it.”

That’s Alec Baldwin reading from the opening chapter of Philip Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America back on October 15, 2013. The occasion was a tribute to Roth that Library of America co-sponsored with the cultural advocacy project Toward International Peace Through the Arts (TIPA) at Temple Emanu-el in New York City. Baldwin was preceded onstage by fellow actors Paul Carlin, who read from Portnoy’s Complaint, and John Rothman, who treated the audience to an excerpt from American Pastoral.

Read The Plot Against America
in Philip Roth:
Novels 2001–2007

In early 2017, the pairing of Baldwin with this particular Roth novel may strike viewers as more pointed than it might have in 2013. Thanks to his portrayal of a certain VIP on Saturday Night Live, the actor is enjoying one of the most high-visibility moments of his three-decade career, while The Plot Against America is regularly being cited (by Bernard-Henri Lévy, by David Denby in The New Yorker, and by New York Times Book Review editor John Williams, to name just three instances) for its relevance to current events—an unlikely twist for an alternative history of America’s World War II years. (Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, the other speculative take on World War II in the Library of America series, has been getting some renewed attention lately too.)

If you like the clip above, a longer excerpt appears below—and Baldwin’s complete reading (which runs for twenty-seven minutes) is available on our YouTube channel. Philip Roth fans, meanwhile, will want to know that in September Library of America will publish Why Write? Collected Nonfiction 1960–2013, the tenth and final volume of LOA’s Roth edition.

Video: Alec Baldwin reads from The Plot Against America: “Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear.” (10:06)

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