In any event, perhaps this will spare us Tom Wolfe for a couple of days, although I expect that his ego won't allow him to refrain from placing a self-aggrandizing essay on his relationship with Bellow's works in some major print outlet. It will, however, allow me to comment on the shameful difference between the way American publishing has treated the two. The one wrote serious fiction, for serious people, and got treated like a joke. Of course, that's probably par for the course; most American source of serious fiction are consolidating and reducing their output. (I will not comment on the irony of that item appearing where it did, considering that the NYTBR has steadily reduced its coverage of fiction in the last five yearsand the current editor wants to cut it moreexcept to note it.)
Perhaps, though, that's a sick sort of democracy in action. Bellow never stooped to providing easy answers to the hard questions raised in his books. That, however, seems to be what the publishing industry seems to think we want. Put another way, I don't read in order to turn my brain off; that, however, seems to be the only constant in what the publishing industry proclaims as its greatest successes.