The MacLamity

The News That Stays News, Reported Live

Monday, April 25, 2005


Like his novels, it seems that Bellow's past was dominated by individual hyper-dense memories which, like those Hawking holes in reality, had the power to swallow up (and sum his) his entire experience. You can see him returning to the same points in his letters to Philip Roth. For some reason the thing I remember best about 'Humboldt's Gift' is when one character reminds another character how obsessed he was with a National Park Service sign showing the stages of the lives of the beaver, only feet away from the beavers themselves. The beavers had their whole lives mapped out for them just over their head, the entire time. It's a powerful image. I imagine Bellow's skill was not just to recognize it as powerful. But to see the many angles at which it could refract the light, and choose the right one according to the story.