“If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me, thought Moses Herzog.” Thus begins the story about a man who wants to have his insanity and eat his rationality, too. He’s unhinged, and rightfully so. His wife has just dumped him for his best friend. Usurper. For the past week, whenever I can steal a moment, I’ve spent time with Bellow’s magnificent novel, savoring lines and whole passages. I say magnificent in part because I read the book years ago, in a rush, and with no enjoyment and even less understanding, and flat-out despised the thing. Hated it. Even donated my nice hardbound copy to the first set of hands that would relieve me of it. Totally unheard of. Anyhow, I picked up a dog-eared copy at the used bookstore and have cherished the damn thing silly. For those of you unfamiliar with Herzog, many of its scenes and incidents occur in Chicago, New York, and other urban metropolitan areas. Despite these settings, Bellow still has a fantastic eye for nature. Or at least for uncultivated front yards. And the skies above. “Tall bearded grass and locust and maple seedlings surrounded him in the yard. When he opened his eyes in the night, the stars were near like spiritual bodies. Fires of course; gases — minerals, heat, atoms, but eloquent at five in the morning to a man lying in a hammock, wrapped in his overcoat.” Here’s another passage: “The first frost had already caught the tomatoes. The grass was dense and soft, with the peculiar beauty it gains when the cold days come and the gossamers lie on it in the morning; the dew is thick and lasting. The tomato vines had blackened and the red globes burst.” I’ll have more to say about Herzog, in particular about transitions, as I continue to follow Moses’ leopold-bloomian journey through inner and outer space. Leopold Bloom, meet Underground Man. Yes, I think I’m on to something here….
Postscript. I have mixed feelings about the new theme for my blog. Largely because my blogroll, something I like to publicize, is way down at the footer. Sorry about that. But it’s only an experiment.