Saul Bellow's Heart: A Son's Memoir

Greg Bellow

Saul Bellow's Heart: A Son's Memoir

Greg Bellow's bond with his famous-writer father was grounded in a tenderness, social optimism, and light-hearted humour rarely attributed to a man more often remembered for being quick to anger and schooled in rational argument. This intimate memoir gives voice both to the 'Young Saul' - the rebellious, irreverent and ambitious young writer, and dedicated father - and to the 'Old Saul', the writer known to the wider world, whose edges hardened as his social views turned pessimistic. 2.7 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
Saul Bellow's Heart: A Son's Memoir

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Biography, Literary Studies & Criticism
Format
Pages
RRP
Date of Publication April 2013
ISBN 978-1408835487
Publisher Bloomsbury
 

Greg Bellow's bond with his famous-writer father was grounded in a tenderness, social optimism, and light-hearted humour rarely attributed to a man more often remembered for being quick to anger and schooled in rational argument. This intimate memoir gives voice both to the 'Young Saul' - the rebellious, irreverent and ambitious young writer, and dedicated father - and to the 'Old Saul', the writer known to the wider world, whose edges hardened as his social views turned pessimistic.

John Crace's Digested Read | The Guardian Saul Bellow: Letters

Reviews

The Financial Times

Talitha Stevenson

“Was I a man or a jerk?” Saul Bellow asked a friend shortly before his death. His eldest son’s memoir is a book too rich in ambivalence, anger, bafflement, tenderness and wishful thinking to give a clear answer. In fact, Greg Bellow sidesteps the question in ways that testify both to the complexity of the character of the Nobel Prize-winning author and to the enduring need of children – even grown-up ones – to find ways to believe in their parents’ goodness despite all the evidence against it.

12/04/2013

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The Times

David Baddiel

[A] restrained and moving memoir … Saul Bellow’s Heart is a record of a different time ... Cyril Connolly’s dictum about the pram in the hall being the enemy of good art — that was taken really seriously, then. Now, most male writers would, I contend, consider that the pram, whatever part of the house it is in, might be a wellspring of art — or if they don’t, they at least would not see it as the terrible bond their machismo must break through in the name of art.

13/04/2013

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The Observer

Adam Mars-Jones

This isn't a worthless reading of Bellow's development, from "a young man full of questions to an old man full of answers". There's certainly a shift in world-view between Herzog in 1964 and Mr Sammler's Planet in 1970. It's just that Greg's need to claim the Saul Bellow he remembers from his childhood (or has reconstructed from it) as the essence of the man overwhelms any nuance of interpretation.

13/04/2013

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The Scotsman

George Walden

Rancour about the “old Saul” and his friends dominates the last part of the book, together with resentment against Janis Freedman, the last of Saul’s wives ... It seems not to have occurred to Greg that his father’s abandonment of his Trotskyite illusions might have been sensible, or that his anger at the anti-Semitism of Chicago’s black militants, his objections to the spread of a stultifying political correctness on the campuses, or his defence of “elitist” culture, could have been the natural reactions of a mature, reflective man of letters.

13/04/2013

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The Sunday Times

Ed Caesar

If there is a writing gene, Greg did not inherit it. He is a trained psychoanalyst, and his narrative is peppered with clumsy assertions. Of his father’s early exposure to Bible stories, for instance, he muses, “I have often wondered whether Jesus’s use of meaning-filled parables strengthened my father’s inclination to communicate via stories.” Despite this ham-fistedness, Greg is an insider, and his memoir contains some interesting nuggets

07/04/2013

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The Spectator

Jeremy Treglown

It isn’t the son’s fault that his powers of insight and articulation are less than Saul Bellow’s: whose aren’t? And of course if writing this narrative has proved helpful to him, fine. But publishing it wasn’t necessary, and reading it is frankly a struggle.

13/04/2013

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