This volume just came outthis week from The Library of America. I got one.
Here is what Norman Mailer once said about Hemingway:
‘He’s a trap. If you’re not careful you end up writing like him. It’s very dangerous to write like Hemingway, but on the other hand it’s almost like a rite of passage. I almost wouldn’t trust a young novelist—I won’t speak for the women here, but for a male novelist—who doesn’t imitate Hemingway in his youth.’
A SITE THAT KEEPS TRACK OF SUCH THINGS said that today in 1964 ‘Herzog’ a novel by Saul Bellow was published. I’ve often said it’s best book I ever read. It’s certainly one of them. First line: ‘If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me, thought Moses Herzog.’ I’m not the only one who thinks so highly of it. It’s a great American novel on most lists. You’d like it. It’s got everything. Told with an unusually smart voice.
I’ve been a schoolteacher. Right after college in 1969, like a lot of guys, I taught school as an alternative to serving in Vietnam. I was married with a week-old daughter on graduation day. I taught grade school English in Cleveland, Ohio for six years. After that, I ran, eventually owned, a longstanding bookstore in downtown Cleveland. It felt something like Three Lives in the West Village. I went on to found an alternative weekly paper like the Voice, also in Cleveland. It lasted 12 years. Twenty-one years ago I moved here, armed with an idea and a prototype for a national book magazine. Like a Rolling Stone for books. I never raised the huge amount of money I needed. I then worked for a media company, editing a couple of neighborhood weeklies, more than once using my editor’s space to talk about city kids and reading. Between the editorial jobs, I taught English for a year here in Manhattan at a Catholic boys’ high school with mostly minority kids. I was terrible at discipline. But sometimes when we found a book or a story we liked, it all came together.