In praise of Saul Bellow

Yesterday my son brought to my attention this wonderful article about Saul Bellow that was published in the NYT Book Review two weeks ago, Beyond Criticism, and asked me to blog about it.

The article starts by saying,

It may be heretical, or just foolish, for a book review editor to admit it, but there are times when criticism is beside the point.

and ends with

Bellow’s books illuminate themselves. And all commentary is only so much background noise.

Sam Tanenhaus, who is the editor of the NYT Book Review and who wrote the article, is not alone in his admiration. My friend Roger Harris, who used to be the books review editor of the Star Ledger is equally enthusiastic about Saul Bellow. Bellow was a rarity in the modern literary world: a writer of great literature that is also fun to read.

Tanenhaus wrote his article because The Library of America has issued a new edition of Saul Bellow’s major fiction from the 1950s and 1960s

Since I do my recreational reading usually lying down on the living room sofa with a book on my lap, I prefer single novel editions. The novels included in the second Library of America volume are Seize the Day, Henderson the Rain King, and Herzog:

This is the second Bellow volume by the Library of America. The first one,

included novels from 1944-1953, Dangling Man, The Victim, and The Adventures of Augie March

And don’t forget his short stories,

Him with his foot in his mouth – We can all sympathize with a character such!