Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Saul Bellow's Heart: A Son's Memoir Hardcover – April 23, 2013
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
“Saul Bellow's Heart is a fascinating personal document written with much sympathy, yet an admirable candor, by Bellow's eldest son Gregory, a psychotherapist. It is a portrait of the artist at close quarters, and at a little distance; a confirmation of the deep autobiographical roots of Bellow's fiction; and a revelation of what it means to be a child, in this case one of three sons, of the most lavishly acclaimed American writer of the second half of the 20th century.” ―Joyce Carol Oates
“Nuanced, moving, and idiosyncratic, with an unpredictable ending.” ―New York Review of Books
“Greg Bellow's new memoir, Saul Bellow's Heart, now stands as the single most important book for those of us who have long wondered what his famous father was really like . . . . For better and worse, there's no stronger account of the life and times of the great writer than this one that was written by his own flesh and blood.” ―The Jewish Daily Forward
“Lovers of Bellow's novels will find familiar things illuminated in a different light. This is a book of nuances. And for a writer who looms as large as Saul Bellow, we can value its insights.” ―San Francisco Chronicle
“Saul Bellow's Heart is written with love mixed with vexation and frustration rather than with anger or resentment.” ―Washington Post
“Greg has done something complicated and remarkable. He has spared none of the unsavory parts of his father's character and still enabled us to understand why this man could generate, throughout his life, so much love. Greg expresses anger along the way--this book does not pull punches with the characters who moved through Bellow's life--without the rancorous bitterness that suggests still unsettled reflections. Greg has opened his own heart. If there is any truth to the old adage that you judge a parent by the child, Greg is a testimonial.” ―Los Angeles Review of Books
“[A] balanced exposé of a Nobel Prize-winning author whose memorable, fallible narrators closely resemble Saul Bellow at various stages of his emotional and intellectual lives…Bellow's oeuvre has been examined many times by literary critics and biographers, but his son has unique insights into the author's heart, born of long conversations over many years about topics that a less liberal parent would have avoided.” ―Christian Science Monitor
“In Saul Bellow's Heart, which weaves memories and feelings with a discussion of Bellow's novels, the son sets out to reveal the human being concealed inside the literary lion. The memoir accomplishes this beautifully. Engaging and well-composed.” ―Washinton Independent Review of Books
“Greg is capable of showing great sympathy and reserve of judgment when discussing Saul, who required exorbitant portions of both--and often demanded more still.” ―New York Observer
“Saul Bellow was an incandescent being, and also incandescently difficult. Greg Bellow has written a wrenchingly candid account of being his son -- a real son, not a literary son: there is no self-invention here, there is only self-discovery. I was deeply moved by Greg Bellow's memoir of his passage from pain to acceptance. Amid the brutalities of love he has found its blessing.” ―Leon Wieseltier
“Affectionate but candid and at times brutally painful and honest, Saul Bellow's Heart reveals much about Saul and his oldest son. In writing this memoir Greg forges a final link between them, the act of writing and connecting again to a father whom he now knows more fully if less privately. For readers interested in both Saul Bellow and the complexities of father-son relationships, this memoir is revealing and rewarding.” ―Jewish Book Council
“Fondness doesn't lead to blindness in these pages: Thoughtful analysis and understanding are hallmarks throughout…A passionate book by a man with his own strong opinions.” ―Washington Times
“Unabashedly straightforward.” ―Publishers Weekly
“[A] richly personal portrait…Replete with compelling inside-literature tales, this is a loving and exacting remembrance of a ‘literary lion.'” ―Booklist
“Bittersweet . . . Replete with intimate anecdotes and insightful glimpses into the autobiographical aspects of the elder Bellow's fiction.” ―Library Journal
“Bellow scholars will be arguing about Saul Bellow's Heart for three hundred years.” ―Gloria Cronin, Editor, Saul Bellow Journal
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The opening paragraph of the book is one of the most gripping I've ever read.
(Tolstoy's comment that "every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way" comes to mind reading the story of the Bellow family.)
It is difficult to evaluate a book like this one. You read it because it is about Saul, but it is the memoir of Greg. It is Greg's story, but he knows that what the reader wants to hear about is Saul. But he can't tell his story without drifting away from Saul at times.
While seemingly not a great premise for a book, the topic of Saul Bellow is important enough that the book adds to our understanding of one of the great writers of the twentieth century. While hardly objective, the son's memoir allows a viewpoint on Saul's pains and the pains he inflicted on others that it would be hard for an objective biographer to achieve. A reader should, of course, read it with a grain of salt. But a Bellow lover should read it.
Greg Bellow is a (retired) psychotherapist, and his training and experience both adds to and subtracts from the story. Sometimes his training provides insight into Saul's behavior, but at other times the analysis gets a bit in the way of the flow of the story.
Of particular interest is the author's evaluation of the evolution of the "Young Saul" into the "Old Saul". In his youth Bellow was a very progressive voice.Read more ›
It might be easy to write this book off as a very one sided account of a person's tortured life and brilliant career or a "daddy dearest" portrait rife with parental failures, but what really emerges from this memoir is an interesting look at Bellow that takes into account the nature of the writer's work and Bellow's personal history which included never really fitting in as the son of immigrant parents who tried to assimilate himself into a culture that was often at odds with his upbringing and family dynamic. At times, it seemed to me that Bellow straddled two worlds while not being truly a part of either.
The real trick to elevating this memoir beyond the norm is son Greg's career as a psychotherapist. Rather than just writing his father off as difficult guy, he has an inordinate understanding of the influences that set Saul on his creative and personal paths and how they influenced his fiction as well as his personal relationships.
Not overly wordy and actually sort of a short memoir, Greg Bellow does a nice job when it comes to parsing his words and creating a thoughtful memoir based on his point of view as a son and his knowledge of his father not only based on personal experience and observation but on the observation of other family members.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A tender and honest portrayal of a complicated father-son relationship. The celebrity status of the father, author Saul Bellow, does not eclipse the father-son dynamic. Read morePublished 6 months ago by leah bowron
Greg Bellow is drawn simultaneously into a desire to reclaim his father from the myth and industry which claimed him and acknowledging the flawed character which encouraged this to... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Geoffrey Buckett
Deeply Personal a account by olest so. Of bellow as a father. Also commects life events with bellows novels. Worthy readPublished on January 11, 2014 by N. Szajnberg
Offers new insight into the novelist, his work, and his family life. Basically a sad story about a son who loved his father but could never regain the early closeness after the... Read morePublished on December 22, 2013 by Andrew M. Gordon
Greg Bellow's memoir growing up as the son of Saul Bellow ,the famous nobel prize winning novelist, is a gossipy, but mean memoir of his life with the... Read more
Saul Bellow's Heart, written by his son Greg, is well written, intelligent, and interesting. As with most children, Greg has a few axes to grind, but it was still an enjoyable... Read morePublished on June 30, 2013 by drfiddler1
Fan of Saul Bellow.
A better understanding of Saul Bellow as a person.
Recommend to all people familiar with Saul Bellow.