Whatever you might say about Roth's portrayal of women, or that his adult male characters suffer from arrested development, no American writer has written more powerfully and honestly about the experience of male-adolescence and growing up in the post-war period (the following taken from The Writer's Almanac):
"Far from being the classic period of explosion and tempestuous growth, my adolescence was more or less a period of suspended animation. After the victories of an exuberant and spirited childhood — lived out against the dramatic background of America's participation in World War II — I was to cool down considerably until I went off to college in 1950. [...] From age 12, when I entered high school, to age 16, when I graduated, I was by and large a good, responsible, well-behaved boy. [...] The best of adolescence was the intense male friendships — not only because of the cozy feelings of camaraderie they afforded boys coming unstuck from their close-knit families, but because of the opportunity they provided for uncensored talk. These marathon conversations, characterized often by raucous discussions of hoped-for sexual adventure and by all sorts of anarchic joking, were typically conducted, however, in the confines of a parked car — two, three, four, or five of us in a single steel enclosure just about the size and shape of a prison cell, and similarly set apart from ordinary human society."