In an easy-going and light-hearted style, famed novelist Saul Bellow read excerpts last night from his new novel Ravelstein to a large audience at the First Parish in Cambridge. He stopped afterwards to pose for pictures and meet with admirers.
The reading was sponsored by the Harvard Book Store and drew admirers from Harvard and the community.
"I've been a fan of [Bellow] for quite some time," said George Packer, a local enthusiast. " Ever since I read Bellow's first novel Dangling Man."
He added that "there is a mix of innocence and slyness that is there on the page but comes out more when he's reading it."
In attendance were students from English 178x: "The American Novel from Dreiser to the End of the Century"--a course that has Bellow's Herzog on the reading list.
" I'm in the...'American Novel,' and we just finished reading Herzog" said Arwen O'Reilly '02. "He's an eloquent writer, and it is interesting to come and hear him read because of his mastery of the English language."
Ravelstien, Bellow's first full-length novel in more than a decade, is loosely based on his friendship with Alan Bloom who was best known for his mid-1980's cultural commentary The Closing of American Minds in which he bemoaned the worthlessness of the modern liberal arts university education.
Many critics have expressed surprise at Bellow's candid account of his friendship with Bloom, who is now dead, that explores male friendship and Jewish culture. Bellow and Bloom became close friends while teaching together at the University of Chicago.
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