The Life of Saul Bellow: Love and Strife, 1965­–2005

Zachary Leader. Knopf, $40 (784p) ISBN 978-1-101-87516-2
This masterful account of the second half of Bellow’s life from Leader (The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune 1915–1964) is impressive in both content and accessibility. The biography opens at an exciting point: Bellow, with the publication of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Herzog, catapults to the highest echelons of literary success. Leader combines Bellow’s life story with close readings of his major (and sometimes minor) texts, highlighting the autobiographical content of Bellow’s fiction. Although generous to Bellow, Leader shows the highly flawed person existing alongside the great writer. The book depicts a man caught up in mid-century notions of masculinity, displaying a volatile temper, expecting women to wait on him, and flaunting his dominance. While garnering an array of literary honors—National Book Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Nobel—Bellow continually disappoints his children and friends, and careens from affair to affair and marriage to marriage. Yet Leader has a talent for finding the redeeming details that humanize Bellow—consideration to his assistant Mrs. Corbin; affection toward his only daughter, Naomi Rose, born when he was 84, five years before he died. Leader succeeds because his book never bogs down: despite its almost 800 pages, Leader knows when to move on, producing a compulsively readable biography. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2018
Release date: 11/06/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 864 pages - 978-0-307-38893-3
Paperback - 816 pages - 978-1-101-91018-4
Hardcover - 832 pages - 978-0-307-26883-9
Ebook - 978-1-101-87517-9
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