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The Bellarosa Connection Paperback – October 1, 1989

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Nobel laureate's second trade paperback original (following A Theft ) is a flabby novella that interweaves, and never resolves, two discrete themes. The aging, lonely and nostalgic narrator, a memory specialist, summons from the past the book's story within a story concerning his onetime acquaintance, Jewish refugee Harry Fonstein. Saved from the hands of the Nazis by an Italian underground movement spearheaded by Broadway showman Billy Rose, Fonstein immigrates to America, where he prospers--in business and in his marriage to an obese and brilliant woman. But his obsessive efforts to thank Rose are thwarted by the charismatic yet obnoxious, even deviant personality. Readers who yearn for more on the piquant WW II Bellarosa operation, or on the unsavory doings of Rose, are likewise frustrated by Bellow's characteristic philosophical digressions--savvy but ultimately self-indulgent--on Jewish assimilation in America, memory, friendship and aging: "I couldn't bring myself to go to bed just yet. One does grow weary of taking care of this man-sized doll, the elderly retiree, giving him his pills, pulling on his socks, spooning up his cornflakes, shaving his face, seeing to it that he gets his sleep." 125,000 first printing; $60,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 102 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (October 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140126864
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140126860
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #585,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Saul Bellow won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel HUMBOLDT'S GIFT in 1975, and in 1976 was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 'for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work.' He is the only novelist to receive three National Book Awards, for THE ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH, HERZOG, and MR. SAMMLER'S PLANET

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rob Shimmin on May 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
For most of this novella, Bellow tells a story that appears to be going nowhere. The narrator, the child of Jewish immigrants who has become ionospherically wealthy selling memory-enhancement techniques, recalls two friends he last saw thirty years ago.
The narrator begins to tell the tale of Harry Fonstein, a Jew smuggled out of Fascist Italy by an underground organization financed by the Broadway producer Billy Rose. Rose refuses to hear Fonstein's thanks, and so his life is overshadowed by a cloud of gratitude he is not allowed to express. Until his wife Sorella decides to avenge Rose's treatment of her husband...
and then the narrator stops telling his story, because he hadn't seen the Fonsteins since. The final third of the novella raises difficult questions about memory and the duty to remember. Has the narrator's eidetic memory replaced actual relationship with the people he remembers? Is that memory even accurate? Has he in fact, failed to fulfill the whole point of memory, despite near-perfect recall of the actual facts?
This story lulls you in with an almost colloquial style and simple plot, and then ends that plot to force you to confront how easy it is to fail duties to friends and cultural identity. After its unsophisticated beginning, the final revelation is very disconcerting.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By outtolunch86@hotmail.com on November 15, 2000
Format: Audio Cassette
I picked this book up at a second hand sale without any real expectations, but feel I have now discovered a classic author for our times. The style is witty and conversational with a biting edge, but moves forwards at a relentless pace. At times the writing seems 'throw-away', but by the next sentence one realises this is only a deliberate trick on Bellow's part. Saul Bellow (what an incredible name for a Jewish author - a Biblical character with a booming voice!) somehow squeezes a gripping narrative into one hundred and two pages. It is laced with dark and morbid humour, but seems to retain an essentially humane quality.
The novella is told in the first person by a rich American Jew who has made his money via a gift for memory. He (I don't think he is ever named) is trying to recall figures from his past who remain elusive and in the process finds out something new about his memory. At the heart of the novella is his own guilt feelings for his success as a first generation American Jew as opposed to the suffereings of the previous generation.
In some ways I regretted that thwe novrella was not longer, but this might have destroyed its fleeting quality. There is something about a short and sharp shock to the system...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
This 1989 novella was written by the 1976 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. As with many books by better writers, this book is worth reading more for the way the story is told, its language, humor, wit, asides, and depth, rather than its plot.

The story is about the narrator's reactions to the behavior of Harry Fonstein, his wife Sorella, and the hugely rich Broadway producer Billy Rose. Rose rescued Harry and others from the Nazis, spending large amounts of money, but when Harry arrived in Ellis Island, Rose sent him a message that he should now fend for himself. Thus Harry was unable to enter the US and was sent to Cuba. In Cuba, he was introduced to grossly overweight Sorella, an American. He married her and was able to come to the US. Harry loved Sorella and she him. Harry wanted to thank Rose foe saving his life, but Rose for inexplicable reasons refused to speak to him. Then Sorella, a tiger wife, had a plan to force Rose to speak to her husband.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 18, 1999
Format: Audio Cassette
If Bellow could've just cut his endless surmisings and jokings about how fat one of the characters was by maybe half, I would have greatly enjoyed this story of a spoiled rich American-born WASP-marrying Jewish man, who is the head of a mnemonics group, looking back over his life and realizing what a profound impact two friends of the family really had on him.
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