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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dangling Man (1944) by Saul Bellow

Book Review
Dangling Man (1944)
by Saul Bellow

 The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune 1915-1964, a very long (832 pages) first volume of a projected multi-volume biography of the author, was published on May 5th of this year.  So I'm sitting in my place in Echo Park with the Sunday edition of the New York Times, perusing the book review section, and bang- front page.  Meanwhile I'm half-way through his first novel, Dangling Man, and I've never read anything else by Bellow, and kind of feel like one of those people who doesn't read movie reviews if they are going to watch the movie (I'm not one of those people) because I don't know a thing about Saul Bellow, and I know I'm going to get a number of his books inside the 1001 Books Project, and I'd rather just read the books and learn the biography as I go. 

 Saul Bellow is one of those authors who I vaguely equate with my parents, seen on the shelves at the homes of friends growing up, but not someone that was discussed let alone read by myself or my peers.  I guess I would probably lump him in with Hemingway in a vague way- though I now know, after reading several books by Hemingway, that the comparison isn't that apt.  Dangling Man is about a guy who is waiting to be called up the draft- he is kind of an artist, unemployed.  It's written in diary form.  It is like many first novels written by Anglo-American authors stretching back a half century by 1944.   You get a strong sense of the author as a struggling young artist.

  The diary format is inexplicable, and I guess one just chalks it up to what they call "early days" in the entertainment industry.  What comes after, I suppose, must be undeniable and Dangling Man is pleasant enough.  A diary format though.  I mean, really.

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