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Publisher's Summary

Fading charmer Tommy Wilhelm has reached his day of reckoning and is scared. In his forties, he still retains a boyish impetuousness that has brought him to the brink of chaos: he is separated from his wife and children; at odds with his vain, successful father; failed in his acting career (a Hollywood agent once placed him as “the type that loses the girl”); and in a financial mess. In the course of one climactic day he reviews his past mistakes and spiritual malaise, until a mysterious, philosophizing con man grants him a glorious, illuminating moment of truth and understanding and offers him one last hope.
Saul Bellow (1915–2005), author of numerous novels, novellas, and stories, was the only novelist to receive three National Book Awards. He also received the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
©1956 1974 by Saul Bellow. renewed 1984 by Saul Bellow (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

“It is the special distinction of Mr. Bellow as a novelist that he is able to give us, step by step, the world we really live each day - and in the same movement to show us that the real suffering of not understanding, the deprivation of light. It is this double gift that explains the unusual contribution he is making to our fiction.” ( New York Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Baba on 07-23-15

A sad day in the life of a man

Today is the day of reckoning for failed actor... Failed extra turned speculator Tommy Willham.
He is a broken man trying to come to grips with an unloving dismissive father and an ex wife wants all and more from Tommy.
This is on of Bellow's sadder tales but worth while and interesting!
Well narrated and full of characters you can't help but relate to.

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3 out of 5 stars
By BB on 01-08-12

A good character sketch -- a disappointing story

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I've always liked the way Bellow captures characters by their dress, their expressions, their manners, and this short novel has some good ones, starting with Tommy Wilhelm. But he places Wilhelm in a predicament and then leaves us hanging. When I read this decades ago, I thought it was moving. Listening to it now, I found it frustrating.

What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

Excellent as usual.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Mahmood Ahmed on 06-06-17

Worthy of All the Praise

Great characters and a fascinating story. Beautifully written. My first Saul Bellow read. I want more!

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2 out of 5 stars
By hfffoman on 05-19-14

Slighly annoying book about very annoying people

Any additional comments?

I can't say it isn't a good book. It is well written and insightful. It just isn't a great pleasure to read. The lead character is so unlikeable I found myself hoping he would have a heart attack and the book would end. The rest of the characters aren't much better. It is actually something of an achievement to cram so many character flaws into one short account

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