Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Bellow Surprise: Turning the Tables Men vs Women, January 8, 2006
This review is from: More Die of Heartbreak (Paperback)
Just when you think that you understand Bellow, this book comes along. By the way, do night buy this book, there is a newer version from Penguin in 2003 with a better introduction: ISBN 0142437743

I am a Bellow fan, read all of his novels, and wrote an Amazon guide: "A Guide to Reading Bellow." The present book is excellent. If I had to recommend just one, it would be "Herzog." but saying that, the present book is a surprise, like a breath of fresh air. Some of his novels have a warmth and charm, and have a certain tongue in cheek approach in describing the trials and tribulations of the narrator. The humour is mixed in with the meaning of our short lives, and the future of our souls. Bellow thought that the development of realism was the major event of modern literature. That includes how we view subjects such as sex, life and death, etc. Having said that, we see two changes here. One is that in most Bellow novels the men dominate the women, or they are equal. Yes, the women often divorce our hero in other works, but here the men are like putty in the hands of the women. Also, instead of one narrator, the present narrator, Kenneth, is so close to his uncle Benn that it seems like the story about two people not one.

In case you are new to Bellow, his novels reflect his life, his writings, and his five marriages during his five active decades of writing. He hit his peak as a writer around the time of "Augie March" in 1953 and continued through to the Pulitzer novel "Humbolt's Gift" in 1973. He wrote from the early 1940s through to 2000. His novels are written in a narrative form, and the main character is a Jewish male - usually a writer but not always - and he is living in either in New York or Chicago. Bellow wrote approximately 13 novels and a number of other works.

Bellow's style progressed over the five decades. The early novels "Dangling Man" and "The Victim" were written in the 1940s, 20 years before his peak. Some compare his style in "Dangling Man" with Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground." Having read both I would say that "Notes" is brilliant while "Dangling Man" is at best average and sometimes a bit slow, but the prose is excellent. Changes could be seen in his second book "The Victim" in 1947. The first half is slow, but then the pace intensifies in the second half. This increase in tempo and lightness carries on in his next book "The Adventures of Augie March" - his breakthrough book in 1953 that won a National Book Prize. He changes his style in "Henderson the Rain LKing" in 1959, and then returns to the New York-Chicago theme after "Henderson." Bellow hits a new high with "Herzog" in 1964, and that book sets the tone for a number of novels that follow. The present books follows later and came out in 1987.

In interviews, and from reading the early works, Bellow said that it was difficult to make the transition to becoming "uninhibited" in his writings. That transition ended in 1953 with "Augie March" and it was refined with "Herzog." After that, there is a certain sameness to the novels. We see a bit of a break in the present novel. There is a bit of laziness evident that he seems to use a number of quotations. But the plot is interesting, and he seems to take delight in exploring and reversing the role of man versus women. They women either ignore or try to manipulate the men, and at least one woman, Matilda, far out-classes our heroes (or as in Bellow novels, anti-heroes).

This is an interesting and unusual novel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

3.5 out of 5 stars (8 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
Used & New from: $0.01
Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Top Reviewer Ranking: 55,553