Saul Bellow's fiction, honored by a Nobel Prize and a Pulitzer, among other awards, has made him a literary giant. Now, in his first nonfiction collection, Bellow's learned and original mind shines through over four decades of reflections on literature, on the state of the artist in the "violent uproar" of contemporary life, and on life itself, "the mysteries of our common human nature".
Beginning with "Mozart: An Overture", a personal bicentennial tribute to the composer who means so much to Bellow, these carefully selected pieces, illuminated by Bellow's absolute clarity of language, range from his Nobel Prize lecture of 1976 to ruminations about his beloved city of Chicago, a city, Bellow writes, that "builds itself up, knocks itself down again, scrapes away the rubble, and starts over"; to remembrances of passing friends: John Cheever, Allan Bloom, Isaac Rosenfeld, John Berryman; to the state of the novel in our time. Along the way, he invokes Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, Proust, Conrad, and other masters of the novel to bear the testament of his own life, his conviction of what the novel as a work of art can do for a society benumbed by technology.
Also included in this rich collection are pastoral, provocative travel pieces on Spain, Israel, Paris, Tuscany, and other special haunts. And finally, as the chef d'oeuvre, the revealing question-and-answer piece comprising "A Half Life" and "A Second Half Life", which is as close as we will come to an autobiography from this contemporary master of American fiction.
As an added bonus, when you purchase our Audible Modern Vanguard production of Saul Bellow's book, you'll also receive an exclusive Jim Atlas interview. This interview – where James Atlas interviews Azar Nafisi about the life and work of Saul Bellow – begins as soon as the audiobook ends.
It All Adds Up is a nonfiction collection of 29 essays and lectures by Saul Bellow, plus two lengthy and revealing interviews of Bellow at the audiobook's end. There are long essays and lectures of considerable intellectual scope and depth, and shorter pieces about politics, places, and people and about Saul Bellow. One of the essays is an interview, of a type, "An Interview with Myself." Also included is the author's Nobel Prize lecture of 1976.
A.C. Fellner's narration is quite impressive. He narrates at a moderate pace and he seems as careful articulating Bellow's words as Bellow was in writing them. His registries of expression and his feel of the variables of the narratives are finely in sync with the flow of Bellow's thought. And here is something relevant to narration: how Bellow listened to people. In one of the audiobook's interviews, Bellow is talking about the way he, as a child, experienced people talking. He says that this way of hearing people talk continues to be with him. "I think that when I was a small child it wasn't what people said, the content of what they said, so much as the look of them and their gestures, that spoke to me." He continues, "That is to say, this is the way things are seen by me when they are most visible." This fine sensibility is obviously present in Bellow's novels, as well as throughout this collection. Bellow's text is consistently thoughtful and expansive, profoundly intelligent, and often deeply probing. Fellner handles the intellectual long-haul sections by shaping his voice to all the fine details and Bellow's keenly observant polemic points.
Bellow was a writer of vast talents and he possessed a multitude of intriguing traits and qualities. It All Adds Up reveals many of them. What the audiobook also reveals it is a message implied in the text is that these traits and qualities cannot be seen in isolation from the man himself. That unity of the writing with the man is what made Saul Bellow great. In his fiction these qualities are spread out, projected on and distributed into and within character and plot structure. In this collection, these elements are all distilled back into their essentials. It All Adds Up thus gives us a portrait, between the lines, of the authentic Saul Bellow, one of America's greatest writers. David Chasey
"Bellow is America's writer, and in this superb collection of nonfiction essays he demonstrates his vigilance of and loyalty to his country over a span of 45 years." (Library Journal)
"Bellow remains one of the most interesting, if slippery, figures in our literature. Sheen and fascination come off of every page." (Kirkus)
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