Without a doubt, Saul Bellow already ranks in the first rank of American writers of the 20th century. "There have been three previous biographies of Bellow, published in 1980, 1991, and 2000," writes author Zachary Leader, "but it wasn't until 2006 that the Bellow estate added roughly 150 boxes of papers to the University of Chicago's Bellow Archive, nearly doubling its size. Now the hour is at hand when the literary world can welcome the definitive Bellow biography of all time.
The Life of Saul Bellow -- To Fame and Fortune, 1915--1964 by Zachary Leader, Knopf '15, $40, 812 pages, ASIN #0307268837. Index, notes, a note on sources, a grouping of b&w images and other b&w images sprinkled through text.
"The biography will be published in two volumes," explains author Zachary Leader. "The first volume, To Fame and Fortune: 1915--1964, traces Bellow's Russian roots; his birth and early childhood in Quebec; his years in Chicago; his travels in Mexico, Europe, and Israel; the first three of his five marriages; and the novels from Dangling Man and The Adventures of Augie March to the best-selling Herzog.
"New light is shed on Bellow's fellow writers, including Ralph Ellison, John Berryman, Lionel Trilling, and Philip Roth, and on his turbulent and influential life away from the desk, which was as full of incident as his fiction. Bellow emerges as a compelling character, and Leader's powerful accounts of his writings, published and unpublished, forward the case for his being, as the critic James Wood puts it, 'the Greatest of American prose stylists in the 20th century.'"
Author Zachary Leader is professor of English literature at the University of Roehampton in London. An American citizen, he has lived in Britain for more than 40 years. He has written nine previous books and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Saul Bellow -- There is Simply Too Much to Think About, Edited by Benjamin Taylor, collected nonfiction, Viking '15, $35, 532 pages, ASIN #0670016691, index, unillustrated.
The great Saul Bellow is certainly best known for his fiction, but editor Benjamin Taylor is turning a spotlight on Bellow's contributions to non-fiction for nearly a half-century in his compelling new work, one of two to celebrate the centennial of one of America's leading writers of all time.
The editor divides his (that is, Bellow's) material into five sections, each embodying a transformative decade in the author's life:
*The Fifties and Before, including writings on such notables as Sholom Alecheim, entitled "Laughter in the Ghetto," Ralph Ellison, entitled "Man Underground," Ben Hecht, entitled "The 1,000 Afternoons," and Philip Roth, entitled "The Swamp of Prosperity," among others.
The Sixties, surveying such topics as Jewish Storytelling, the Future of Fiction, Shakespeare's Sonnets, the Writer as Moralist, the Six-Day War, and Skepticism and the Depth of Life.
The Seventies, examining, among other things, Literature in the Age of Technology, a World Too Much With Us, and Americans Who Are Also Jews: Upon Receiving the Democratic Legacy Award of the Anti-Defamation League.
The Eighties, including such topics as "The Days of Mr. Roosevelt, Reflections on Alexis de Tocqueville: A Seminar at the University of Chicago; My Paris; Chicago: The City That Was, the City That Is;" and The Civilized Barbarian Reader.
The Nineties and After, beginning with echoing the book's title: "There is Simply too Much to Think About," (INDEED!), Ralph Ellison in Tivoli, Papuans and Zulus, Winter in Tuscany, "I Got a Scheme!", with Philip Roth; and Vermont: The Good Place.
Editor Benjamin Taylor is the author of Naples Declared: A Walk Around the Bay, named a Best Book of 2012 by The New Yorker, and of two award-winning novels, Tales Out of School and The Book of Getting Even. He is a faculty member in The New School's Graduate School of Writing.
Why the Amish Sing -- Songs of Solidarity & Identity by D. Rose Elder, foreword by Terry E. Miller, Johns Hopkins UPress '14, $39.95, 193 pages, ASIN #1421414651. Index, bibliography, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
From the dust jacket:
"Singing occurs in nearly every setting of Amish life. It is a sanctioned pleasure that frames all Amish rituals and one that enlivens and sanctifies both routine and special events, from household chores, road trips by buggy, and family prayer to baptisms, youth group gatherings, weddings and 'single girl' sings.
"But because Amish worship is performed in private homes instead of public churches, few outsiders get the chance to hear Amish people sing. Amish music also remains largely unexplored in the field of ethnomusicology. In Why the Amish Sing, D. Rose Elder introduces readers to the ways that Amish music both reinforces and advances spiritual life, delving deep into the Ausbund, the oldest hymnal in continuous use."
Author D. Rose Elder is an associate professor of ethnomusicology and rural sociology and coordinator of humanities and social sciences at the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute.