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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Luftmensch
This is easily one of the finest novels that I have ever had a chance to read and proves one of the basic rules of good fiction--experience bucks education. Augie is the product of his own character, intent on understanding all that surrounds him as he makes his way through up and down the cultural, class, and political divides of the 1920's, 30's and 40's. The...
Published on April 15 2003 by Daniel A. Stone

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3.0 out of 5 stars A nice bunch of short stories
I'm not going to write a long winded literary review. I think this book is best read as a series of short stories. I read a chapter a day and was able to get through it that way. I never had much interest in finding out what happened next. If you're into picaresque novels a la Tom Jones you will love this otherwise I would humbly suggest you skip it. It's too long and it...
Published on Oct. 14 2003 by T. zisis


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Luftmensch, April 15 2003
By 
Daniel A. Stone (Schenectady, New York United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is easily one of the finest novels that I have ever had a chance to read and proves one of the basic rules of good fiction--experience bucks education. Augie is the product of his own character, intent on understanding all that surrounds him as he makes his way through up and down the cultural, class, and political divides of the 1920's, 30's and 40's. The narrative is the education of a poor boy who could see as much value in the pronouncements of a crippled boss, exiled intelligentsia, and pool room hustlers as in the massive amount of poetry, fiction, and history that he assimilates into his worldview--one that values common decency as much as intelligence and cunning.

This is a book that I have now read three times and the view of American idealism from fifty years ago when it was published is simply awe inspiring. The times when the text breaks from its narrative molde and goes into an extended discussion of philosophicl ideas in Yiddish inflected vernacular with idiosyncratic grammar can make you cranky and can often be perplexing. This is completely secondary though, for a close reading of any of these passages brings to light just how sophisticated Augie is--some of the actions he takes make him seem only slightly smarter than an ape though.

If this had been the only book that Bellow had written he still would have earned the Nobel Prize in 1976. I can thnk of few books I have read where a character has drank so deeply and appreciatively of their own culture, upbringing, and experience as Augie March did. When Augie opens his mouth with the book's first sentence declaring "I am an American," he speaks with a level of sincerity, certainty and complexity that animates very few other characters in the novels of any nation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exhilarating, April 29 2004
By A Customer
Recently Martin Amis claimed this was the great American novel, and it's as good a candidate as I've read. Bellow's long descriptions of city characters cascade through the mind, and create an instantly memorable style. Writers will be awed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exhilarating, April 29 2004
Recently Martin Amis claimed this was the great American novel, and it's as good a candidate as I've read. Bellow's long descriptions of city characters cascade through the mind, and create an instantly memorable style. Writers will be awed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars He Tries!, Jan. 18 2004
By 
C Brunner "crbpe" (Ashburn, VA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
He is a good-hearted young man who tries to make a go of it, but, as Stella says, falls into the whims and desires of so many people he meets. He is taken along on a trip to smuggle people form Canada, goes along with his brother's whims and practically marries a woman chosen for him, goes to the shore with an employer, who wants to adopt him, runs off to Mexico with a strange woman and her eagle, ends up in Europe with yet another woman he doesn't say no to, and finds that marriage is less than he would have wanted. He doesn't seem to be able to take control of his own life. Undoubtedly there are many people like this, good hearted with a streak of innocence, but winding up with something less than success. And throughout the book one can see Bellow's disenchantment with rampant Capitalism, which is evident with the successful men in Augies experiences. I like Augie, and I sympathize with him. It's a good read . . get to know him, and learn about yourself.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Born on the Fourth of July, Dec 23 2003
By 
Daniel H. Yeary (Versailles, KY USA) - See all my reviews
An elegant, poetic walk through the life of a uniquely American character. Augie March goes humbly into Depression-era America and, in the search for the best inside himself, finds he's too often on the receiving-end of someone else's plan.
Augie's a capable but passive soul that is trumped by the formidable characters that make up his life, time and again. What appears to be an incurable restlessness and the 'born recruit' label is the courage to live and look inward, out of everyone's view. Finding himself doing everything from stealing books to going down in a sinking ship, Augie's life is one you'll be glad you sat in on.
Saul Bellow's writing is beyond my ability to describe...see for yourself. Very dense and not for speed-readers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The American Novel, Dec 13 2003
By 
pluto "adamnotsmith" (west palm beach, fl United States) - See all my reviews
The perfect gift for any male who has learned to read. Although it is filled with daunting historical and anthropological references, one needn't be afraid to skip them. Bellow would be the first to understand. This is the greatest American novel and nothing else is even close. Melville, Hawthorne, James, Dreiser, Lewis, Wolfe, Hemmingway, Mailer, et. al., are amateurs by comparison. If you are going to read one book in your lifetime, THIS IS THE ONE. What is it about? It's about everything: the straight dope, no quarter given, no sacred cow spared, no good deed unpunished, no relief for either the virtuous or the wicked; humanity celebrated and exposed; the old, the young, connivers, sufferers, strivers, slackers, cons, cripples, pols, debutantes, grand dames, burghers, prize fighters, polymaths, revolutionists, feminists, whores, and tycoons; authority, philosopy, religion, politics, economics, civics, tribalism, philanthropy, sex, money, pride, vanity, hope, despair, all tickled relentlessly and effortlessly, toppled of their own weight. Bellow looks into the void and comes away chuckling, and so will you if you've got the right stuff. If you haven't got it, let Augie help you find it, but don't forget to read between the lines. Whatever you do, don't let academic idiots and caviling critics divert you from reading it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A nice bunch of short stories, Oct. 14 2003
By 
T. zisis "apostate99" (Chicago) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I'm not going to write a long winded literary review. I think this book is best read as a series of short stories. I read a chapter a day and was able to get through it that way. I never had much interest in finding out what happened next. If you're into picaresque novels a la Tom Jones you will love this otherwise I would humbly suggest you skip it. It's too long and it rambles pointlessly. As I was reading it I wondered if an editor was ever used by Bellow. I plan to read at least one more of Mr. Bellow's works. Hopefully, it will be better than this one. One reviewer states this book alone deserved the Nobel Prize. I saw nothing in this book that deserved a Nobel Prize and most of you won't either. This book is nothing compared to Faulkner, Steinbeck, Hemingway or Morrison who have won the great prize and who's work blows this away.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An American Luftmensch, April 15 2003
By 
This is easily one of the finest novels that I have ever had a chance to read and proves one of the basic rules of good fiction--experience bucks education. Augie is the product of his own character, intent on understanding all that surrounds him as he makes his way through up and down the cultural, class, and political divides of the 1920's, 30's and 40's. The narrative is the education of a poor boy who could see as much value in the pronouncements of a crippled boss, exiled intelligentsia, and pool room hustlers as in the massive amount of poetry, fiction, and history that he assimilates into his worldview--one that values common decency as much as intelligence or kindness.
This is a book that I have now read three times and the view of American idealism from fifty years ago when it was published is simply awe inspiring. The times when the text breaks from its narrative molde and goes into an extended discussion of philosophicl ideas in Yiddish inflected vernacular with idiosyncratic grammar can make you cranky and can often be perplexing. This is completely secondary though, for a close reading of any of these passages brings to light just how sophisticated Augie is--some of the actions he takes make him seem only slightly smarter than an ape though.
If this had been the only book that Bellow had written he still would have earned the Nobel Prize in 1976. I can thnk of few books I have read where a character has drank so deeply and appreciatively of their own culture, upbringing, and experience as Augie March did. When Augie opens his mouth with the book's first sentence declaring "I am an American," he speaks with a level of sincerity, certainty and complexity that animates very few other novels.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Greatness, April 22 2002
By A Customer
This book is greatness. To Soul Wanderer below: Opinions vary.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, But Not a Page Turner, Feb. 22 2002
By 
-_Tim_- (The Western Hemisphere) - See all my reviews
The Adventures of Auggie March is a difficult book to read, but when read slowly, it rewards your effort more than most books do.
Auggie is an odd character who meets a lot of other odd characters. During the course of his adventures, he learns a lot about the world, or says he does, but he's not good at applying what he learns to his own life, and he ends up in about as big a mess as he begins in. This is a little disappointing, but Auggie is not that sympathetic a character, so it's not as disappointing as it might be.
We learn a lot too. Saul Bellow studied sociology and anthropology, and he tells us a thing or two about the poor, and people who are down on their luck. At one point, Einhorn, Auggie's mentor, tells him: "Young fellows brought up in bad luck, like you, are naturals to keep the jails filled - the reformatories, all the institutions. What the state orders bread and beans long in advance for. It knows there's an element that can be depended on to come behind bars to eat it." Similarly informative passages, about business, love, the training of wild animals, etc., can be found by opening the book at random to almost any page. (In fairness, a good part of what's said is over-generalization or just not true, but still you're going to leave this book feeling pretty impressed by what the author knows.)
So why not five stars? For one thing, the writing doesn't exactly propel you from one page to the next. For another, the book is not very uplifting. You've heard of Man's Search for Meaning? This book comes very close to telling us that there isn't any. That's pretty hard to take.
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The Adventures of Augie March
The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow (Paperback - Sept. 26 2006)
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