When a polio outbreak takes its toll on a Newark neighborhood in 1944, playground director Bucky Canter is helpless to protect the kids he has dedicated his life to looking after. Unable to enlist in the armed forces because of poor eyesight, Canter commits his energies to the boys of his neighborhood by coaching, training, and setting a good example. Frustrated at his inability to stop the plague, he leaves the city and follows his girlfriend to a summer camp in the Poconos, but he can’t escape the disease. Philip Roth’s NEMESIS (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26) is a look back at a part of our history overshadowed by the Second World War. It’s also a rumination on the body and its limitations, regardless of a person’s actions.
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