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Saul Bellow was easily angered, prone to argument, and palpably vulnerable to criticism, but according to his son, his young father was also emotionally accessible, often soft, and possessed of the ability to laugh at the world's folly and at himself. Part of Greg Bellow's bond with his father was grounded in that softness, in humor, and in the set of egalitarian social values he followed. Saul Bellow's accessibility and lightheartedness waned as he aged, and his social views hardened, although he was, fundamentally, no less vulnerable. His earlier tolerance for opposing viewpoints all but disappeared, and his ability to laugh at himself faded. These changes eroded much of the common ground between Bellow and his son and taxed their relationship so sorely that Greg often worried whether it would survive. But theirs were differences of mind, not of heart.

This memoir gives equal weight to the young Saul Bellow--the rebellious, irreverent, and ambitious young writer--who raised Greg, and the older Saul Bellow, famous and fiercely private. It paints a very human portrait of a man who hid behind parabolic stories, jokes, metaphors, and partial truths, never letting the public see his true self.

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