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Five of Saul Bellow’s most moving, richly textured, and exquisitely plotted short stories make up this volume, each providing a history of personality and self-awakening. The title story, “Him with His Foot in His Mouth,” follows a musicologist narrator who for years has scattered wounding witticisms “from the depths of my nature, that hoard of strange formulations.” As the story unfolds he tries to discover what led him into a “deep legal-financial hole,” while he awaits extradition from a refuge in British Columbia. “What Kind of Day Did You Have?” follows a divorced suburban woman and her lovers—would-be and actual—through a frantic day in their lives. Their needs and passions, as well as their comic conflicts, are matters of life and death. In “Zetland: By a Character Witness” and in “A Silver Dish,” Bellow returns, with his unequaled command of eloquent recollected detail, to a bygone Chicago, “Zetland” is a brilliant portrait of an artist as a young boy and a man, precocious and eccentric; “A Silver Dish” is a memorable story of a raffish, willful father and his affectionate son. “Cousins,” the final story in the volume, explores the mysteries of family feeling—mysteries that defy both logic and the worthiness of their objects, as Ijah Brodsky, successful in the larger world, is drawn into an encounter with criminal and naively idealistic forces. This collection represents a turning point in the bountiful career of Saul Bellow, a felicitous rendering of the human condition in all its absurd complexity.
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About the Author
A fiction writer, essayist, playwright, lecturer, and memoirist, Saul Bellow was born in Lachine, Quebec, in 1915, and was raised in Chicago. He received his Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1937 and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin before serving in the Marines during World War II. Later, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict, Bellow served as a war correspondent for Newsday. Throughout his long and productive career, he contributed fiction to several magazines and quarterlies, including The New Yorker, Partisan Review, Playboy, and Esquire, as well as criticism to The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, The New Leader, and others. Universally recognized as one of the greatest authors of the twentieth century, Bellow has won more honors than almost any other American writer. Among these, he received the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Humboldt's Gift and the B’nai B’rith Jewish Heritage Award for “excellence in Jewish literature.” He was the first American to win the International Literary Prize, and remains the only novelist in history to have received three National Book awards, for The Adventures of Augie March, Herzog, and Mr. Sammler's Planet. In 1976, Bellow was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work.” Saul Bellow died in 2005 at age 89.
Date of Birth:June 10, 1915
Date of Death:April 5, 2005
Place of Birth:Lachine, Quebec, Canada
Place of Death:Brookline, Massachusetts
Education:University of Chicago, 1933-35; B.S., Northwestern University, 1937