I have very few literary heroes, but Saul Bellow is one of them. Since I read Henderson the Rain King in high school, I’ve admired his wit, and ability to charge the most ordinary among us with great thoughts and purpose. His characters didn’t always succeed in life, but they were cast with such ironic humor, that it hardly mattered.
I was sorry to hear that he died yesterday, at the age of 89.
I never got to meet him when I was a student at BU, however I did help rescue a manuscript of his from his misbehaving computer, when I worked as as a student help-desk technician — much to the relief of his Grad student.
Though he is well known and widely read, his reputation in the literary world is almost cult-like. Philip Roth said yesterday:
The backbone of 20th-century American literature has been provided by two novelists: William Faulkner and Saul Bellow… Together they are the Melville, Hawthorne, and Twain of the 20th century.