Bellow, Saul. Herzog. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications, Inc., 1964.
Moses Alkanan Herzog is a man experiencing a midlife crisis. His coping mechanism is to write letters in his head; if they make do it to paper, they are letters he most often does not mail. With each letter comes a flashback to a particular monumental time in Herzog’s memory. Most of his reminiscing centers on his two failed marriages and all the relationships to which he cannot commit. He is a well intentioned, extremely intelligent yet sad man. An example: sometime after the divorce from his second wife Herzog visits a friend and her husband on Martha’s Vineyard. Soon after arriving he realizes his friends are way too happy for his state of mind. He decides, moments after arriving, he he must leave immediately. Instead of facing his well-intentioned friends to explain the mistake, Herzog writes a note and slips away unnoticed. There is a singular self-satisfaction in the fact that he makes it back to New York City by 11pm. Herzog has a heart and deeply cares, despite the fact he is so misunderstood. When he suspects his daughter is being abused he travels to his ex-wife’s home to confront the abuser. His motives are good even though the end is not what he intended.
Confessional: I have this friend who passed away over a year ago. I don’t know why, but at times, Herzog reminded me of him. Maybe it was the multiple marriages and all the exotic relationships with women?
Favorite lines, “A person of irregular tendencies, he practiced the art of circling among random facts to swoop down on the essentials” (p 18), and “A free foot on a summer night eases the heart” (p 194). This last line totally made me think of my husband.
Reason read (April 20th – May 4th): Mr. Bellow passed away in April of 2005 and May is National Jewish American month. In this (rare) instance I am reading one book in two different months. It just worked out that way.
Author fact: Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize for literature.
Book trivia: Herzog won the National Book Award for fiction and was a New York Times best seller (also named top 100 of all “Time” by Time Magazine).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “The Jewish American Experience” (p 132).