There is not much need for me to review this book, as it is well known, and as I already wrote substantial reviews of Herzog and Sammler's. As a young man, when I read this, I adored it (5-stars); this time, I saw also its flaws (4-stars).
All the threads of Herzog, Seize the Day, and Sammler come together here in near perfection... 'near'. A picaresque comedy, Charlie Citrine is throroughly modern, and romps through the latter part of the 20th century, trying valiently... like Harry Houdini ( -- Harry comes from Charlie's hometown, in Appleton, Wisconsin)... to get out alive. And, as this is a comedy, he almost succeeds... 'almost'.
The slap is sometimes too broad or too slick...
And then there is Bellow's obsession here with Rudolph Steiner... WTF...? Are we supposed to take this seriously...? Philip Roth thought it was irony, and in large part the text proves that he is right. And yet Bellow is joking entirely... Well... what can you do. You haven't understood the 20th century...urban, passionate..., living on the edge of the light as it warps at accelerating speed into history... if you haven't read Humboldt.
My only reason for reducing this book from five to four stars is that I have just finished...
The Dean's December.
((Ahh... A fine book. Review to follow...))
((Read this book 30++ years ago -- and adored it. Will reread it now, as part of my rereading of Bellow.)