Another Bellow, another fellow. This time it’s Augie, a Jewish kid from the ghetto who we follow entirely randomly as he grows and flows out into the world and all it has for him.
Now, I know very well that Bellow won a Nobel prize and that this is regarded as one of the best novels of the 20th century. However, I remain to be convinced that anyone actually regards this as one of the best novels they’ve read.
Augie is a tempestuous figure and events come at him thick and fast once he leaves home. There’s no real rhyme or reason. He ends up with various women on various continents doing things as varied as being a salesman and hunting iguanas with an eagle.
But this is a Bellow novel; the events are simply stimulus for the psychotherapy. As is typical, you, the reader, are trapped inside Augie’s head. You don’t feel as claustrophobic as you do in Herzog‘s
head. And there isn’t as much angst to battle with as in Henderson‘s head. In fact, at times, it’s darkly comic.
But overall, and as is typical with Bellow, it’s exhausting. It never rests and, for as much retrospection and reflection as Augie makes, you wonder where on earth he finds the time to act on it all.