... in He asks in exasperation, Dan Green wonders "why is it so hard for even otherwise competent critics such as Romano to understand that when discussing a book ('pages') it's best to stick to what does exist there and avoid speculation about what doesn't?" (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
It's a fair question. To what extent are the details of an author's life pertinent to that author's fiction? Usually not to any very great extent, even when the fiction is evidently "autobiographical." Henry Miller the person was apparently not all that much like the Val Miller of the Tropics. The real Jack Kerouac wasn't that much like Sal Paradise or Ray Smith. But Carlin's point in the case of Roth is, I think, that Roth's fictions are not really very fictitious and are in fact self-justifications - apologiae pro vitae suae. Can they therefore be judged as one might an autobiography? Well, as I said, it's a fair question.