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Saul Bellow's Collected Stories, handpicked by the author, display the depth of character and acumen of the Nobel laureate's narrative powers. While he has garnered acclaim as a novelist, Bellow's shorter works prove equally strong. Primarily set in a sepia-toned Chicago, characters (mostly men) deal with family issues, desires, memories, and failings--often arriving at huSaul Bellow's Collected Stories, handpicked by the author, display the depth of character and acumen of the Nobel laureate's narrative powers. While he has garnered acclaim as a novelist, Bellow's shorter works prove equally strong. Primarily set in a sepia-toned Chicago, characters (mostly men) deal with family issues, desires, memories, and failings--often arriving at humorous if not comic situations. In the process, these quirky and wholly real characters examine human nature. The narrative is straightforward, with deftly handled shifts in time, and the prose is concise, sometimes pithy, with equal parts humor and grace. In "Looking for Mr. Green," Bellow describes a relief worker sized up by tenants: "They must have realized that he was not a college boy employed afternoons by a bill collector, trying foxily to pass for a relief clerk, recognized that he was an older man who knew himself what need was, who had more than an average seasoning in hardship. It was evident enough if you looked at the marks under his eyes and at the sides of his mouth." This collection should appeal both to those familiar with Bellow's work and to those seeking an introduction. --Michael Ferch...

Title : Collected Stories
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140292893
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 442 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Collected Stories Reviews

  • Praj
    2019-05-04 00:39

    This is my first Bellow read. Over the years I never bothered reading any of his books and overlooked them at the bookstores. This being my first volume was not that ecstatic.The presented anthology of 13 stories come with a mix bag of history, humor, irony, metaphysics, the Holocaust, nostalgia, sex, modernity, migrant life in America and identity ; accompanied by a witty narration. Most of the characters be it Samuel Braun, Rob Rexler, Harry Fonstein, Woody Selbst, Katrina Goliger or Max Zetland are not the epitome of beauty but are unique in their own imperfections. Bellow has an exceptional artistry in metamorphosing mediocrity to splendor. His several protagonists are sort of heroic who overcome life fragilities and emerge as winners in their own way. Most of them are Jewish or other immigrants trying to find their identity on the American soil; similar to what Bellow experienced during his life. These stories have a personal Bellow touch reflecting many of his own perspectives on identity (he fought the constant labeling of being a “Jewish writer”) and modernity. In ‘The Old System’, he mentions, “Mankind was in a confusing uncomfortable, disagreeable stage in the evolution of consciousness”, which shows his disheartening acceptation of modernity. These stories bring out the essence of beauty and joy from the most unconventional settings.That said and done, there are some disheartening shortcomings too. The narration is loose and needs trimming at certain edges, making it rather difficult to focus on the plot. The stories did have a solid start but somewhere in the middle it became a carnival of unexciting surroundings making me browse pages to find comfort. Also, Bellow’s portrayal of Sorella, Aunt Rose and even Max Zetland are filled with excessive and repetitive usage of adjectives to embellish human anatomy which tends to be a bit dragging. At times, I felt like erasing the characters from the highly subjective text.One thing I detest while reading short stories is skipping pages and this is exactly what I did here. I do not want to be unjust and form a rapid opinion about Bellow based on this writing .I don’t deny that he is one the superior writers but this book failed to create that aura. Hence, I will read some more of his works before inferring whether Bellow is my ‘cup of tea’.

  • Shane
    2019-05-04 21:17

    I managed to get through ten of the thirteen stories in this collection and then I had to stop. I will however, return to the remaining three at some point in the future.Bellow paints a stark picture of Depression-era Chicago in many of the stories which are centred within the Jewish community. During his life, he decried being labelled a Jewish writer but his immersion in that culture does not absolve him of the moniker. Personally, I think he should have worn the badge with pride, for he brilliantly explores the depth in his Jewish characters, exposing their sharp edges, their ambition to make it in the new world (by hook or by crook), their tribal nature, and most of all, he draws the distinction between the European Jew who has earned his stripes by suffering the pogroms and persecutions of the past, and the American Jew who is selling his by assimilating and embracing the American Way.Some interesting factoids of the era get tossed into the mix as we read along: how until the nineteenth century, the Pope entered the Jewish section of Rome and spat ritually on the garments of the chief Rabbi; how common it was to bribe private medical colleges with “donations” to earn a degree in the US; how the public service system was riddled with more bribery; and how the prisoner gets his hernia fixed, cataracts removed, false teeth and hearing aid installed, all at the cost of the US penal system, costs he could never afford himself while going straight.Some lines of dialogue say a lot: “You don’t support your children,” Mrs Skoglund says, on meeting Morris Selbst for the first time, revealing much of both their characters. Bellow is pre-occupied with fat women and big men and many of his characters fall into these categories – is this a metaphor for the American Jew who has forsaken his origins and settled for life, liberty and the pursuit of Mac-happiness? Why did I stop reading then: because of the density and waywardness of the prose. In particular, the longer stories are packed with lots of interesting but inconsequential detail. I guess, a Nobel laureate has the luxury of drifting and expecting his readers to catch up, not really caring for the contract he has with them, and ignoring their entertainment and enlightenment quotients. There are digressions into philosophy, poetry, politics, literature, and the lives of peripheral characters, in random order, which only serve to move the reader away from the central conflict in many of the stories, and these parts are tedious to get through. And his character descriptions are often overdone; I was never allowed to forget Sorella Fonstein’s “fatness” – it came up at least a couple of times on every page. I liked the shorter pieces however, like “A Silver Dish,” “Looking for Mr. Green,” and “Something to Remember Me By,” which seemed to enforce more discipline on Bellow with their conciseness.Is Bellow a master of the short story form? Probably not. Is he a master of human observation – absolutely, for in plumbing his characters in these sketches, he has revealed much of what is hidden in the lives of his people who fled European persecution and toiled as bakers, shopkeepers, grocers, taxi drivers, mobsters, political advisors, lawyers and writers, wrestling with guilt and ambition while nursing dreams of success for themselves and their progeny in this New World of opportunity which was in turn, ironically, mired in the throes of the Great Depression. Just as his critics had labelled him, he seems to be saying, “You can run but you can’t hide – once a Jew, always one.”

  • William1
    2019-05-20 00:19

    Rereading "The Old System."

  • Yair Ben-Zvi
    2019-05-11 21:37

    For the sake of brevity I'll give a grade to each short story in succession first and then a summary explanation afterwards for those who wish to run that marathon with me, now, here, I can live my fantasy of telling a young Solomon 'Saul' Bellow as his creative writing teacher with one of those old world accents that he's 'good but could be better' but at least better criticism than 'oh, well, that's interesting':By the St. Lawrence: B+A Silver Dish: BThe Bellarossa Connection: B+The Old System: A-A Theft: D-Looking for Mr. Green: ACousins: AZetland: B+Leaving the Yellow House: BWhat Kind of Day Did You Have?: B-Mosby's Memoirs: B-Him with His Foot in His Mouth: B+Something to Remember Me By: AAfterword: A+ (Wherein the writer explains and even codifies his position, very well done and does wonders for explaining the works that had come before regarding both intent and execution, Bellow at his most iconoclastic and most steadfast)I know this isn't a popular opinion, but Bellow is not a great writer. A good writer? Yes, certainly. A very good writer? At times, yes. But great? No, afraid not. The lows of the likes of Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, Joseph Heller, as far as Jewish American fiction goes (the title of 'Jewish American Novelist apparently irked Bellow), may have been pretty dismal (Mailer's obnoxiousness, Roth's pathos to near pathological melodrama/whining, and Heller's seeming inability to escape from the shadow of Catch-22) but their highs were so much higher than what I've read so far of Bellow, they evinced from their respective oeuvres so much joy, so much angst, passion, anger, power, and a breadth of literary scope that Bellow just (from this collection and Dangling Man at least) cannot match. Also, it seems to me that Bellow isn't much of a storyteller. His disseminating of ideas is wonderful, but the narratives of some of the pieces in this collection feel tacked on, almost vestigial. Like Bellow was writing philosophical, literary or anthropological treatises (pick your poison) but he apparently remembered at some point that he's a novelist and should give these ideas some legs with characters, settings, voices, those sorts of things. But it's like taking a beautiful painting and putting a radio next to it with classical music playing, or a great movie with a man paid to sit next to the screen and give commentary at the theater.But I gave this a four out of five. Why? Because Bellow's pros outweigh his cons here. And because I like lights at the ends of tunnels, I'll start with the negatives.Bellow has an odd relationship with women, at least in his pages. There are way too many instances of women being depicted as unattractive in one way or another. Be they too fat, too skinny, with bulging or exaggerated physical features (usually faces and hands, though the male characters get it just as badly in description) and, to put it lightly, mentally inferior to most of the men, namely the protagonists, in their lives. They're not depicted as stupid by any means but too often they let out an exclamation of 'Oh, I just don't know!' or something to that effect to their male counterparts that comes off as both 'old fashioned' (sexist) and a bit too cutesy, as another reviewer put it, I think 'overly intellectualized and sexism made cutesy' in the vein of 'those gosh darn women!'. This is in large part why I rated A Theft so lowly, it takes the weaknesses of Bellow and explodes them, especially the issue of women characters. It's definitely the weakest piece of the collection.But it's a molehill not a mountain, annoying but not, as my father would say 'a hanging offense'. Where Bellow loses points with me is in the repetitiousness of his settings and characters (seriously, how many different ways can you have older professorial gents, usually Jewish) look back on their lives and the great histories they lived through while coming to a revelatory, and usually somehow Jewish in origin but shot through the barrel of Western philosophy in execution, climax?). I understand that writers have their milieus that they feel comfortable in and, sometimes, Bellow hits it out of the park (The Old System, Him with His Foot in His Mouth, By the St. Lawrence) but just as often it's overly pretentious, overly allusive naval gazing that only returns to the plot when Bellow remembers to. Mosby's Memoirs and What Kind of Day Did You Have are particularly guilty of this though, like most of Bellow's work, the positives, the joys and genuine pleasure I got from these stories more than made up for the snobbishness and glacial pacing.Dialogue is tough here, Bellow seems to strain under the lash of too many influences. He wants to be the street smart American Jew born of Russian Jews who's, at the same time, an American Jew who understands the folly of other American Jews and empathizing with European Jews whilst taking the best of both worlds and being able to see what they all can't. He wants to talk philosophy, anthropology, psychology, popular trends, old ideas, new ideas, Judaism, and on and on and on. With seemingly every story, and the dialogue along with every other aspect shows such strain that I'm surprised that his stories don't sink off the page and burrow in the ground or just burst from the pressure . And don't ask if Bellow's funny, when he tries, I cringe, but he's a wit, no doubt and occasionally manages a good joking slight or observation.Bellow, despite the incredible praise showered on him (Martin Amis calling this collection 'Our greatest writer's greatest book', really?), has his detractors. Just from glancing at this wikipedia profile I saw that Vladimir Nabokov referred to him (privately) as a 'miserable mediocrity'. Now, I wouldn't go that far. Sure, Bellow is a bit too much like Dickens in his pacing and in his characters, there's an almost saccharine quality to even the dark aspects that, despite many claims to the contrary regarding both him and Dickens, to me can hardly be called 'realist'. There's an old fashioned austerity and earnestness to Bellow that almost borders on the severe at times. It's not Victorian, but it can be suffocating at times.But what I enjoyed about Bellow more than anything else and what pushed this rating from a three to a four star was and is something quite simple: Bellow carries with him into each story a zest and enthusiasm for the craft that I've found lacking in many other of the 'greater' works. Cynicism and nihilism are great, hell, I love them both (irony there?) but if you don't give a damn about writing about life about most anything, then it just gets exhausting after a time to read about the meaninglessness of it all, the useless attempts at on and on and on. It's a rare writer that can espouse these things and be great, Bellow isn't one of these but he isn't trying to be. He writes with boldness and strength and in the words of John Updike (referring to Nabokov, again, a bit ironic here?) he writes prose ecstatically. And in works like Looking for Mr. Green and Something to Remember Me By this idea is best exemplified with this sense of literary expansiveness and adventurous exploration. Bellow does this so well that it almost clears him from his numerous shortcomings, and at times even makes the flaws into darker shades of a wonderful mosaic.

  • Derek
    2019-05-12 19:22

    It is hard to know what to do with something as beautiful, and as beautifully imperfect, as Saul Bellow's Collected Stories. Objectively, of course, this is five stars. But I'm no professional reviewer, nor does that seem to be the point of Goodreads. James Wood's introduction seems to capture nicely what would've taken me forever to say: "Bellow's stories seem to divide into two kinds: long, loose-edged stories, which read as if they began life as novels (such as "Cousins"), and short, almost classical tales, which often recount the events of a single day ("Something to Remember Me By," "A Silver Dish," "Looking for Mr. Green"). I realized only when I read this introduction (to avoid spoilers, it was a task I'd reserved until I'd read all of the stories collected here) that my preference was absolutely for the latter, and that the former I found to be unforgivably self-indulgent.But Bellow's afterword complicates things for me more than I would have guessed. In it, an either surprisingly or tellingly brief essay or sorts, Bellow notes the different things that compete for our attention (Ninja Turtles named among these), and that the work of the writer is not necessarily to cater to or concern himself with these distractions. But agreeing with Chekhov, he notes that shortness is good, and, in what surely to some reads as an absolute refutation of so many of the stories that precede the afterword, Bellow claims he has tried to be short with these. I have to take him at his word. He's won the damn Nobel Prize, after all; if he felt these stories, at least those "long, loose-edged" stories as Wood describes them, could have been any shorter, then we ought to grant that he would have made them shorter. And why shouldn't we? But the rub, for me at least, is that I'm at the point right now where I can't see the facility in their digressions, their needless meandering, and their presumption that the reader will be as taken by each detail as the writer is.Because indeed, when he is focused, these stories absolutely marvel. "Something to Remember Me By" has easily affirmed its position among my ten favorite short stories. "Leaving the Yellow House," which focuses on a character type not explored in the other stories in this collection (for one, she's a woman who isn't wealthy), finds Bellow seemingly reenergized by tackling something with which he is uncomfortable. Urgent. And that urgency is lacking in stories like the bipolar "Cousins," or the oblique "What Kind of Day Did You Have." There are stretches of excellence in these stories, of course, but the plots crumble under all of the extra stuff tacked onto them.I'm willing to concede that this is generational, or perhaps just my age (I'm 28 at the time of writing this review). Perhaps revisiting these stories later I'll be able to luxuriate over the challenge of these longer stories, and will find the intellectual rigor of them to be enough to hold my attention. But I'm not there right now. The flashiness of something like "A Silver Dish" or "Something to Remember Me By" (by no means lightweights on their own merits) is far more my cup of tea. They show better Bellow's attention to the crafting of a tight short story, which his other stories fail to capture.I don't resent these stories in so far as they keep me from the Ninja Turtles. I resent them in that they keep me from Bellow's other, excellent, and altogether enjoyable (and in the case of "Something to Remember Me By," nearly perfect) work. Too much of Collected Stories, with the notable exceptions already outlined above, felt like eating my cultural vegetables.

  • John Addiego
    2019-05-14 00:19

    I have to consider Bellow as second to no other American writer. Maybe Faulkner. This collection of stories is a mix, though. The Silver Dish is an amazing story, a lesson in writing, a perfect narrative voice that evokes the complexity of love. Now, having made my hyperbolic assessment of Bellow's virtuosity, I have to admit that a few pieces in this collection had racist and misogynist undercurrents that couldn't be excused by context. As the current leader of the free world might say (presuming he reads): Sad.

  • Prasad GR
    2019-05-01 23:28

    William Gass said, 'Language is not the lowborn, gawky servant of thought and feeling; it is need, thought, feeling, and perception itself. The shape of sentences, the song in its syllables, the rhythm of its movement, is the movement of the imagination.' Saul Bellow brings this quote to life with an amazing collection of stories that are at once engrossing and soulful. 'What Kind of Day Did You Have?', the longest in the collection, is also the best. Brilliant, intense stuff! And undoubtedly, here is an addition to my list of favourite authors.

  • Joe Alewine
    2019-04-23 23:42

    An exercise in extremely long-winded pretension. I managed to finish it, but I will read nothing else by Saul Bellow at anything short of gunpoint.

  • Börkur Sigurbjörnsson
    2019-05-13 03:33

    It took my a while to get through this collection, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Wonderful character development.

  • Ben Weiner
    2019-05-03 02:40

    Kept me company on the bus in Chicago every morning during the long winter commutes.

  • Clancy
    2019-05-18 22:41

    The first half of this book had me on the outs. The first half of this book was, and I mean this in literal sense rather than figurative, not for me. It was (as I was to find out as I progressed) an unflinchingly, uncomfortably intimate picture of the 20th century Jewish-American experience. As a 25-year-old WASP-y Australian, as awed as I was by the prose, it was difficult to penetrate. It was difficult to immerse myself and take something comprehensible from what I was reading. I did start reading it somewhere around Chicago, at least.At almost exactly the halfway point, the stories collected (by the author himself) immediately and thrillingly broaden their focus.Everything from 'Looking for Mr. Green' onward is fucking incredible.'What Kind of Day Did You Have?" is possibly the finest short story I've ever read. Every character is gut-wrenchingly, terribly, miserably, human. Each plot, while gripping and page-turning, is so stunningly regular that it feels as if you may be reading over an account of one of your own memories that you forgot somewhere along the way.These are episodes lifted straight from the modern human condition. Simultaneously a celebration and condemnation of the modern world and its people. Never before have I read an author that so deftly illustrates the uneasy and intricate web of relationships between an individual and their family, acquaintances, friends, colleagues, and even their city.Bellow's writing makes you want to slap, spit, curse, scream, and exhale heavily in useless exasperation; but you never want to put it down. This is vital writing, is what I'm trying to say.(4 stars because as frothy as I am over the second half, I really couldn't get into the first)

  • Barry
    2019-05-25 02:18

    I read 58 pages. I could not go on; it was just too much work. The first story, "The silver dish", was readable, interesting even, but the second one, "The Bellarosa connection", was hard to follow. I loved "The adventures of Augie March", despite the grand language and Greek allusions. I liked Bellow's "The victim" too, although less so (three stars instead of five) but Bellow's short stories are denser and I got lost in the clever allusions. I'm just not literate enough, I guess. A review of these short stories by Malcolm Bradbury of The Guardian claims "No modern writer has ..... more exactly captured the strange Byzantine, parrot-filled meeting places of modern thought, modern heart, and modern silence." I rest my case.

  • Evan Gorzeman
    2019-05-22 03:38

    I only read 3 stories from this collection but I read all of Herzog so I think I can say I finished it. I like Bellow’s prose but find these domestic Chicago Jewish growing up and reflecting stories to be something hard to connect with in this day and age. He’s a master and some of the sentences are gorgeous but 2018 lacks the pathos for Saul Bellow. Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe it’s not. Idk.

  • Waleed
    2019-04-29 00:32

    Bellow was a master of the full-length novel rather than the short story, but some of these stories are outstanding, such as 'Him with His Foot in His Mouth', 'The Old System', and 'The Belllarosa Connection'. Other stories are more meagre, such as 'Leaving the Yellow House' and 'What Kind of Day Did You Have?'

  • Brendan
    2019-04-25 02:22

    In all honesty, I like these stories more than any other work of Bellow's I've read. Fantastic portraits of humanity.

  • Nick
    2019-04-30 01:13

    I think Bellow is an absolutely beautiful writer. You can’t deny it. He can craft a sentence like no one else. I started this collection after reading Svevo, who apparently is somewhat clunky in Italian, let alone in English translation. The difference between the authors was remarkable and I was blown away by the Bellow’s lyricism.That said, I didn’t really enjoy these stories very much. I feel as if Bellow is some kind of “intellectual” at a party who, while entertaining at the beginning of the night, ultimately seems to be just speaking to hear himself speak. For instance, in “The Bellarosa Connection,” one of the main characters is morbidly obese. And while the story seems to be in part about the Americanization of Jews from Eastern Europe, ultimately it becomes about how many different ways Bellow can describe the fatness of this one character. Here’s but a small sample: “She made you look twice at a doorway. When she came to it, she filled the space like a freighter in a canal lock.”“Exquisite singers can make you forget what hillocks of suet their backsides are.”“She could rely on her bulk to give an impression of the fullest calm.”“He didn’t invite Sorella to sit, but at her weight, on her small feet, she wasn’t going to be kept standing”“The meaning was, a woman deformed by obesity.”“’I outreached him and outweighed him,’ said Sorella.”“My thought then and later, was that she was too much hampered by fat under the arms to make an accurate throw.”“Sorella, so mysteriously obese.”This goes on and on. If this was a contest, Bellow would win for his cleverness. Yet the story left me with very little by the end, like pretty much all the stories I read in this collection. It’s not that Bellow has nothing to say, it’s that what he’s saying is hopelessly banal but made to look exquisite by the language surrounding it. I don’t think I ever made a true human connection with anybody. And there’s a certain pervading indirect misogyny that I couldn’t ignore and which bothered me. I know that it’s impossible to remove form from content, but I’d be curious what people would think of these stories if they were written by some one with inferior linguistic gifts, or at least someone who wasn’t quite as refined a stylist. I know, I know, the very definition of impossible, it wouldn’t be Bellow at all then, but I’m still curious. I will give Bellow another chance and read an earlier work considering most of this collection was written when Bellow was over 60 and had won the Nobel (i.e. he could relax a little bit), but for now, I will have to disagree with Amis’s approbation on the back cover: this is not our greatest writer’s greatest book.

  • Denis
    2019-05-14 19:43

    Reading these stories took concentration on my part. It's to do with his style and the long, loose stories themselves. In this 447 page collection there are but 13 stories. A few are no doubt novellas, the longest (What Kind Of Day Did You Have) being 74 pages long.And, he's certainly not from the school that teaches spare, tight narrative that doesn't beat around the bush. Bellow doesn't spare any detail in describing the physical traits of his characters, even the minor ones. We are also given precise pictures of what makes these characters tick; their philosophies, who they read, and other minute accounts of their makeup. And like his novel, Humboldt's Gift, which I commented on recently, most of his protagonists and many of the other characters are well read intellectuals who are wrapped in metaphysical ponderings and we the readers are exposed to the reflections of various philosophers, artists, and other great thinkers. The result is realistic, mostly interesting stories with extremely vivid characters, but stories that sometimes feel a little too long and points of view that come off a tad presumptuous.But I am impressed with Bellow's style. He's so darn smart. In my own writing I hope to try being a little more detailed in my characters' descriptions and makeup, maybe even authorial, here and there, so I will be checking these out again, later.

  • Jemma
    2019-05-22 00:35

    A collection of tales with finely crafted sentences. If you like quality writing you will like this. What lets it down is being an anthology and of course, the stories are of greater or lesser interest. The highlight though is the Bellarosa Connection, which is one of the best things I've read relating to the Holocaust. Bellow had a truly unique perspective and while telling the tale, his description of characters both physically and psychologically is fascinating.Indeed, these skills are what make these stories but there is also the way in which they transcend the subject matter and have a universal relevance. In less talented hands, these would have been merely tales of life in Jewish Chicago. That element is here and you do feel like you know more about Jewish life in the mid century Chicago but somehow the tales transcend this and are full of insights into the mysteries of life, age and death. Indeed, he does seem obsessed with the latter two but that is understandable for a long-lived author and again, he explores his relationship with mortality with panache. Probably not a book you will love though if you are a teenager. Well maybe if you're a Goth.

  • Leah
    2019-05-25 00:36

    "Anyway, he saw death as a magnetic field that every living thing must enter. He was ready for it. He had even thought that since he had been unconscious under the respirator for an entire month, he might just as well have died in the hospital and avoided further trouble. Yet here he was in his birthplace. Intensive-care nurses had told him that the electronic screens monitoring his heart had run out of graphs, squiggles, and symbols at last and, foundering, flashed out nothing but question marks. That would have been the way to go, with all the machines confounded, from unconsciousness to nonconsciousness. But it wasn't over yet, and now this valetudinarian native son stood in Monkey Park beside the locks shadowed with the autumn green of the banked earth and asked himself whether all this was justified expense of his limited energy."

  • Sam Klemens
    2019-05-02 19:33

    This book was a tough one to get through. I remember this book being around for quite a while before I finished it. In retrospect, it's probably better read and appreciated as one story at a time, with a week between each. It's Bellow, so the writing is brilliant. The best, no question or debate. But it's like watching a documentary, it can be interesting as hell and you can like it, but at the same time it can still be boring and dry. I remember a couple of stories, but nothing like I remember Henderson the Rain King and Humboldt's Gift. My advice; if this is your introduction to Bellow don't start here. Read a novel first. And then tackle these stories. I would never want a person to be put off this top .01% writer for life because they found this collection pedantic, esoteric or just boring.

  • Mauro
    2019-05-15 02:22

    Three of the greatest short stories I have ever read are within this collection: "A Theft", "Him with His Foot in His Mouth" and "Something to Remember Me By".I usually enjoy Bellows writings for the sofistiscation of the relatioships among his characters - I mean "sofistication" not in the sense of elegance, but in the sense of subtleness, gentleness and sensibility: people know what to say and when to say. And they dig really deep into human feelings. Those three stories (specially the last one) have all of this.

  • adam
    2019-05-18 00:39

    Very, very difficult not to tremble in awe after reading this Bellow anthology. Occasionally, Bellow's shortcomings as a novelist-meandering plots, neverending discussions of Platonist metaphysics that I never come close to understanding-infect a couple of the stories, but, still, NOBODY writes this well. It's freakish. The best stories ("Something to Remember Me By" and "The Bellarosa Connection") are for the ages, and the rest don't miss that level by much.

  • Chris
    2019-04-28 00:39

    I wouldn't have appreciated this if I hadn't studied it, but now that I have I think Bellow's as fine a craftsman as I've ever encountered. No word is out of place, and each story is so intricately and ingeniuosly arranged that it bears up to repeated re-readings, revealing new secrets each time you pore over it. Plus "Something to Remember Me By" feels like the template to every good Six Feet Under episode.

  • Steve James
    2019-05-06 00:32

    “[Saul] Bellow sees more than we see - sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches. Compared to him, the rest of us are only fitfully sentient; and intellectually too, his sentences simply weigh more than anybody else’s.”Martin Amis.Not superficial writing, but if you ever want to read someone that flawlessly and beautifully turns the experiences and thoughts of his character’s lives into the those of someone you’ll think you’ve always known...

  • Honoré
    2019-04-24 01:37

    A bitter-sweet collection of short-stories evoking another age. This is about memories, family, cousins, lust, death and regrets, but also fun and stoicism. As the narrator(s) approach old(er) age they go back to what could have been, what never was, or perhaps was, in a different perspective. This is the mature collection of an author at the peak of his understanding of mankind and its destiny. Must read.

  • Boz Reacher
    2019-05-20 02:19

    I would recommend buying rather than borrowing, the stories mostly follow an "old guy reminisces" formula which can get somewhat exhausting if you read this all back to back to back as I did. Got down to the wire, rushing against the library deadline, and I almost stopped enjoying myself - almost. If there are toilets in heaven there's a copy of this sittin on every tank.

  • Lucy
    2019-05-13 19:35

    THE OLD SYSTEM: loved the tina character was reading all about the jews and had a massive beach ful of hasidic jews in front of me (Aberystwyth)SILVER DISH: enjoyed this first delve into bellow's writing. father character great

  • Will
    2019-05-11 23:31

    Really good and surprisingly dense. I don't know what I expected, but, despite this not being it, most of these stories are incredibly good. Four stars instead of five only because it was slow for me in parts, but that's it.

  • Josh
    2019-05-14 01:42

    The last two stories in this collection, I loved. A couple of others were very good (A Theft is one that stands out). But overall, I enjoy Bellow much more as a novelist than a short storyteller. Classic Bellow prose throughout, but not all as satisfying as his novels.

  • Chris Horner
    2019-05-21 19:13

    collected is accurate; they are far from short. great for a transatlantic flight, imperfect for a subway ride. worth every minute. "A first-class man subsists on the matter he destroys, just as the stars do." (The Bellarosa Connection) Bellow is a first-class man.