Friday, March 27, 2009

Review: Humbolt's Gift

What a wonderful, great, big, shaggy dog of a novel Humbolt's Gift is!

While litigating with his ex-wife, being bullied by a B-team mobster, and fending off the marriage plans of his young "palooka" girlfriend, narrator Charlie Citrine contemplates the life of his recently deceased best friend and meditates on big questions such as the nature of death, man's role in the cosmos, and theories of boredom.

With dozens of remarkable supporting characters and side stories, this long book is entertaining throughout. It is not a quick read, but it is worth the time.

Saul Bellow deserved his Nobel -- he was really the Grand Master of American letters. Anthony Burgess included this one on his list of favorite 99 novels.


  1. It's good to know when one of those chunksters is worth the effort. Thanks! This one is on my "list" somewhere. . . :-)


  2. Hello! Just dropping by to say thanks for visiting my blog. I'm glad you did! I love all your lists, and I've even already added a book to my TBR pile (Jim Harrison's The Road Home--sound like something I would love).

  3. Here here on Humboldt's Gift and Bellow. Though not my favorite Bellow book (Mr. Sammler's Planet tops my list, followed closely by Henderson the Rain King and Herzog), I've never read a "bad" one of his, if there is such a thing.

  4. My husband has this book laying around somewhere. I've only read one Bellow book (Herzog) and I read it in about 1982. I remember being really glad I'd read it, but I absolutely can't remember anything about it! I guess it is time to either re-read it or read another Saul Bellow.

  5. I've started-but-stopped this book 3 times now. I really want to like Saul Bellow, and I was hopeful with Henderson the Rain King, but alas.

  6. Henderson was the first one I read and it didn't appeal to me. Just not my cup of tea. Likewise, Seize the Day didn't do mucj for me.

    On the other hand, Herzog, Humbolt, Augie March, and Ravelstein -- love 'em! All favorites of mine.

    I guess Bellow was prolific enough that there is something there for everyone.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...