Damn this book was long. And pretty boring, except for a couple parts in the loooooong middle and most of the end (last ~20% or so). I gather it was about the (mostly futile) quest for the American Dream. There was a bunch of stuff about personal fulfillment and contorting oneself in life to the expectations and opinions of others, rather than seeking one’s own real purpose or true destiny.
Bellow’s style is probably the most complex so far on the list. He goes from light, realistic dialogue and entertaining, functional storytelling to endless dwelling on minutia to crazy ass philosophical mumbo jumbo, that, while seemingly disjointed in context, is pretty mind-blowing and sharply insightful after reading some of the deeper passages 6 or so times. He definitely gets human nature. He nailed the internal struggle for happiness and feeling like you have some equity in your own life’s course of events.
I have to say the first half of this book (which in itself was longer than half of the other books I’ve already read on the list) was really slow. I was certain I was going to crucify this one as a monotonous go-nowhere period piece, but it was much more than that in the end. It was a tough read though. Not one I was psyched to pick up many evenings. But I liked it in the end.