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As I rolled through this listen I kept waiting for for the profundity to hit. Surely there must some great, self-shaking thought just around the corner or maybe somewhere in Chicago. But everyday seemingly regular people, especially our mildly eccentric hero, never do anything really unexpected or extraordinary. Then it begins to sink in. This isn't about the extraordinary. It really is about the common, ordinary life of one man struggling with things we [all] struggle with.
The writing is like yeast added to water and that to flour. At first you don't really notice anything. But given time, it begins to grow. The thoughts on relationships are sad and funny at the same time. Why do we make bad choices? We just do.
I would add this book to a "must read" list.
The narration is perfect for the material and not overdone in the least.
Highly recommend if you like books above the level of the trashy novel but want something easier than Dickens!
15 of 16 people found this review helpful
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I spend a lot of time arguing that you can get as much from an audiobook as from a paper book, but Bellow tests that claim. This is a powerful book about a man who has a hard time pulling himself out of the texts of his life and into his real life. It's slow -- slow in the sense that not that many things happen -- but it's also raging in the way we're in and out of Herzog's mind. His imaginary letters (some real) show him trying to get traction in the real world as he flees to the world of writing.
As a result, it's sometimes hard to listen to a novel that's so much about the business of writing. I often wanted to stop and re-read a sentence -- Bellow is a master of the sentence -- and I missed a sense of the textual nature of Herzog's various letters. Hillgartner can signal that we're into a new letter, but I don't think he can get across the effect of seeing the heading and recognizing the deterioration or recovery of Herzog's mind. And that's a crucial distinction because I think there are ways in which Herzog's mind (as caught in the text) is a different character from Herzog himself (as caught in his own story).
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Can't understand the two previous visitors giving this 2 stars each! It's a brilliant book, and it's brilliantly narrated. There.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
So Bellow is a Pulitzer Prize winner and a Nobel prize winner and this is one of his most celebrated works. But what a letdown.
It has its moments but the problem is Bellow's women. They are insufferable and this is not always intentional. Bellow devotes most of the book describing them. Maybe it is meant to be comical but it did not feel that way. I found it tedious and irritating.
The narration is good and it was perhaps the only reason I could finish the book.
No post 50s American fiction for some time.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful