Typical Sardonic Saul Bellow style...a quick read.
Fabulous novella. Not only does the main character regret the decisions he's made in his life, but he finds no sympathy from his family, either. He's on the verge of tears throughout the whole story, and you know it's coming, and you know it's going to be heartbreaking.
A 5-star classic Nobel Prize winning author. One of the finest short novels in literature.
This novella, which took me longer to read than Pride and Prejudice, was not a quick and easy read. The picture depicted on the front cover of a man looking up at the very tall RCA Building (ominous/overbearing) and my memories of the phrase "seize the day" from the movie "The Dead Poet's Society" (suicide) set a tone to this novella - maybe unjustly. I felt the despair and desperation of Tommy Wilhelm from the start. His life was miserable and he could not seem to do anything right. The "answer" was not to be found easily. His strained relationship with his father felt oddly familar. He wanted his approval desperately. Their conversations which revolved around finances were reminescent of conversations I have had with my own parents. I even felt embarassment for Tommy when he was driven to write a note to his father asking him to pay his hotel expenses. I felt like he should have had "his life together" by now. Tommy is a man in his early to mid forties with a wife and two children. As the novella progresses, Tommy appears to be in a downward spiral. It seems to be heading towards a tragic end - I fear Tommy will commit suicide. Tommy's last $700 has been invested in lard at the advice of a new friend. The current price of lard doesn't look good. The final chapters really captured me - Tommy is at the stock exchange watching the prices and is tangled up in the consequences of his own decisions and character flaws, the value of relationships, his own coping skills and ability to express thoughts, emotions, concern. I look forward to reading this novella again.
Well written, but more of a character study than anything else. I expected more, so was disappointed. My first Bellow, so perhaps I don't have a sense of this work as part of the oeuvre yet...
This book set in the mid 30's introduces us to Tommy Wilhelm who in his 40's and is trying to cope with his life of many failures. Tommy believes most of his problems come from the fact that his father has never been able to show him love. He learns to accept love from anyone who is offering, and constantly gets taken advantage of by those he trusts. He finally comes to the conclusion that one must reflect and look at the sins of the past in order to progress into the future. The themes of capitalism, personal relationships, greed, foolishness, life and death are very prevalent and gives the reader a lot to reflect on. I recommend this book because it is very short but has a great message of significance.
Really liked my first Bellow book! I found it hopeful at the end...