An overprotective mother left him straddled with guilt and an Oedipal complex. His childhood memories are dominated by unpleasant bodily functions - his father complaining of persistent constipation; his mother accidentally spilling a drop of menstrual blood on the kitchen floor; his own inability to wipe himself completely or to control his masturbation.
Portnoy was raised by Jewish parents, grew up in a Jewish neighborhood, attended a Jewish school, and all his friends were Jewish. As an adult, he became obsessed with seducing attractive non-Jewish women ("shikses", as he calls them). But Portnoy has no interest in a real relationship. When referring to his past lovers, he is more likely to call them by a nickname than to use their real name. He calls his latest lover "The Monkey" after a past sexual incident she confessed to him. This is just one way in which he dehumanizes women, treating them only as sex objects. The Monkey is absurdly ignorant, but Portnoy stays with her because she is beautiful and good in bed; Portnoy is overtly misogynistic, but The Monkey stays with him because she hopes that he will marry her.
Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth is a satirical confession of a 33-year-old sex addict, who recognizes his self-destructive behavior and feels extreme guilt over it; but is powerless to correct these flaws. Despite his numerous faults and our very different upbringings, I was able to relate to his life.
The story is humorous, but crude. It is crude, but humorous.
I feel a little guilty for enjoying it so much.