I'm sitting at my desk thinking about how much I love to play with prepositional phrases: to move them from place to place in a sentence, to substitute synonyms with slightly different sonic force (under, below, beneath; on, upon). The sparrow sings again. Now I look down at the cover of the book I've just pulled off my to-read pile. It's Philip Roth's My Life As a Man, which I bought for 25 cents last weekend at a yard sale. I'm not exactly a fan of Roth. In fact, I rather dislike him. Yet his work feels important to me. It reveals, painfully, a segment of a world that I must come to grips with, yet how would one define that world? It's one in which women are a torment to their men, in which intellect is a torment to the mind. There's great cruelty in Roth, yet kindness is not art, and I think he is an artist. But I'm loathe to say anything about where that artistry lies, for Roth is a writer who makes me feel less confident about my ideas. He makes me feel that I may have no ideas at all.