1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An Interesting Read,
This review is from: Ravelstein (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I took this book up because I had heard Martin Amis and Christopher Hitchens declare their admiration for Saul Bellow. Indeed, for Amis, Bellow seems to have become a sort of mentor or father figure. I read Seize the Day a decade ago, but it did not resonate. I had really wanted to read Humboldt's Gift, but then I stumbled on Ravelstein and thought, `Why not?'
I quickly realized Ravelstein must have been Allan Bloom, made famous for his Closing of the American Mind, to which Bellow penned the preface. Ravelstein recounts the friendship between Bellow and Bloom (Chick and Ravelstein) as professors during what might be called their sundowner years -Ravelstein is dying and asks Chick to write his memoir, which Chick does after his own near-death experience.
The novel is a good one. I appreciated the descriptions of Raveltsein's brilliance and excesses and the magnetism he had over his students and colleagues. I also liked the references to classical learning (Bloom translated The Republic during the `60s, I think) and ruminations about Jewishness and what that means. There are a few jokes and surprising cultural references, and anecdotes and descriptions are quite entertaining. The book is well-written; there is hardly a sentence that is not thoughtfully crafted, and the story carries you along, for the most part. I thought it lagged a bit near the end (when it shifts from Ravelstein to Chick, or Bloom to Bellow) and that it was a little dry in places, but then it was meant as a fairly serious book and it was published when Bellow was 85. I liked the novel enough to want to come back to Bellow in the future, which means, for me, Ravelstein did what it was supposed to.
Troy Parfitt is the author of Why China Will Never Rule the World
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Initial post: 31 Dec 2013 12:58:43 GMT
Gazooks, if any work or deed of mine received a recommendation from that pair of pretentious phoneys, Amis & Hitchens, I'd be horrified. Saul Bellow is well capable of standing on his own feet without such assistance.
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