Sunday, March 25, 2012
Saul Bellow wrote his last novel at age 85, soon after his own bout with mortality, having ingested a toxic fish in St. Martin while on vacation, and finding himself in the ICU for 25 days in a hospital in Boston. Martin Amis, in his memoirs (Experience) says "It is....in my view, a masterpiece with no analogues. The world has never heard this prose before: prose of such tremulous and crystallized beauty." The novel is a roman a clef about Allan Bloom, whom Bellow befriended as a fellow professor at the Univ. of Chicago. Bello encouarged Bloom to write a book based on his philosophy course notes, which would become a best seller, The Closing of the American Mind. Harriet Wasserman, Bellow's agent took on Bloom's book project, which made him wealthy. In a sense, Bellow's booklong prank got away from him, it made Bloom famous, so Bellow had to kill him, it's the Frankenstein myth (Max, The New York Times).