April 06, 2005

Saul Bellow

The New Republic critic James Wood once wrote, "Reading Bellow is a special way of being alive; his prose is germinal." That seems exactly right, and it's sad to hear that Saul Bellow passed away yesterday—sadder, for me at least, than hearing about the death of the pope or Terry Schiavo or anyone else of late. So rest in peace. I'm not planning on offering wall-to-wall coverage here, but the New York Times obituary is very good.

UPDATE: Well, okay, just one short passage from Bellow's Herzog, which was probably the first "serious" novel I ever read. Maybe not, but it might as well be:
At the corner [Moses Herzog] paused to watch the work of the wrecking crew. The great metal ball swung at the walls, passed easily through brick, and entered the rooms, the lazy weight browsing on kitchens and parlors. Everything it touched wavered and burst, spilled down. There rose a white tranquil cloud of plaster dust. The afternoon was ending, and in the widening area of demolition was a fire, fed by the wreckage.

Moses heard the air, softly pulled toward the flames, felt the heat. The workmen, heaping the bonfire with wood, threw strips of molding like javelins. Paint and varnish smoked like incense. The old flooring burned gratefully--the funeral of exhausted objects. Scaffolds walled with pink, white, green doors quivered as the six-wheeled trucks carried off fallen brick. The sun, now leaving for New Jersey and the west, was surrounded by a dazzling broth of atmospheric gases.
Fantastic! That passage, by the way, is taken from the Wood essay mentioned above, which I found here.
-- Brad Plumer 3:48 AM || ||