Saul Bellow Archive

Beginning a Bildungsroman

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A tantalizing bildungsroman beginning convinces the reader not only that the protagonist is worth listening to, or that the world of the novel is worth observing, but also that there is an interesting friction between the narrator and her surroundings.

Reading Herzog in 2018

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Saul Bellow’s novel is often characterized as a rich portrait of a mind in crisis. It’s also an exploration of the role of history—and memory—in personal life.

Writing Return: Birthplace and the Perils and Pleasures of Nostalgia

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I’ve often resisted writing about the place I was born. To write about birthplace is to open one’s writing up to a number of potential pitfalls. We feel strongly about the places we come from, and often for uninteresting, arbitrary, or vaguely narcissistic reasons.

A Gathering of Particulars: On Building a Word-Hoard

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It is fitting that the bowerbird roosts in the opening lines of Ted Hughes’s poem “A Literary Life,” for there is perhaps no better mascot for reader and writer both. The species is a known collector, spending the better part of the year building complicated huts from assorted novelties:

Finding the Essential in the Literary Midwest

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About a year ago I was invited to participate on a panel of writers to talk about how being a Midwesterner fits into my life as a writer. It was a tough question. I was raised in Illinois, but had just finished a five-year stint in Texas and was