I read this for a group, sometimes like Bellow, but other times I’m not so hot on him. I did see the movie which is based on this book and I remember liking it, but not being blown away.
On one level this is an amazing book, I have no idea how it was received when it was published or how it was received by different age groups but it hit me just perfectly in 2018 at the age of 70. LOL. And it doesn’t appear to be stuck in the 1950s for setting. The themes of what makes a man free and materially successful apply to almost any time frame of American history.
Seize the Day
by Saul Bellow
1956 / 114 pages
read by Grover Gardner – 3h 47m
(both read and listened)
Tommy Wilhelm is a 44-year old failed actor turned salesman who is now unemployed as well as divorced and generally down on his luck. He lives in a hotel in New York with his father with whom he has difficult relations. His mother passed away a long time prior.
And poor Tommy/Wilkie is unhappy with just about everything including, and maybe especially, himself. I guess he’s depressed because the anger seems to be turned inward, but he complains about everything. He’s a slob and self-centered to the extreme. No one much cares for him unless they can use him.
He has a lot of pride but in many ways he just isn’t as good as he’d like to be, so he’s ashamed. Basically, I think he needs to grow up and accept himself and his own part in his difficulties. In a way I suppose it’s a coming-of-age story for a very late, or non-, bloomer.
You can change your name but you will still be the same person. The singular pursuit of money, and buying into that American dream, will warp a person.