this book is captivating only if you have loads of patience to go through all the intellectual material loaded in it by the author. it is not the kind which can be whole heartedly endorsed to everyone. the plot is about Charles Citrine a famous author- now in decline- and his poet-friend Von Humboldt and their internal struggles. like everyone else, Citrine too faces all the common problems of life. these are all encompassing interms of physical (hairloss), material (eluding success, lawsuits and money), emotional (ex-wife, gold- digging girlfriend, ambiguous friends), and intellectual (philistinism, deciline in arts, Humboldt's failure etc). but the most important quest for him is to define consciousness. he is forever struggling with this enigma. he is in search of an answer for the following mysteries of nature. what is this consciousness, is there a spirit and a soul, what do they mean, is there a higher form of consciousness like the spirit, does this consciousness remain after death and if so what are its consequences and so on. he is scared of a conscious entity after death but again if there is none, he argues the futility of a single life. these enquiries of his range from topics like meta-physics to mysticism and spiritualism. though Bellow may not have actually attempted to deal with this subject, it forms the most interesting part of the book. the rest is in the higher realms of intellectualism which one may neither follow nor comprehend. but one is helped in tiding over these parts by Bellow's typical humourous and satirical prose. if you are really hounded by the enquiries mentioned above, then this book will prove an interesting read.