Him With His Foot in His Mouth and Other Stories
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'We were friends, somehow. But in the end, somehow, he intended to be a mortal enemy. All the while that he was making the gestures of a close and precious friend he was fattening my soul in a coop till it was ready for killing.' Vital, exuberant, streetwise and philosophizing, Nobel Prize winner Saul Bellow is one of the undisputed masters of American prose. In this inspired novella an ageing man writes an apology for his rudeness to a librarian thirty-five years earlier, unleashing a dazzling, rancorous comic riff on growing old, regret, rudeness, smoking and 'the world's grandeur'.
animals or the legal rights of their owners. There is a Washington lobby trying to exterminate the breed, and meantime enthusiasts go on experimenting, doing everything possible to create the worst of all possible dogs. Philip took an intense pride in his wife. ‘Tracy is a wonder, isn’t she?’ he said. ‘There’s terrific money in these animals. Trust her to pick up a new trend. Guys are pouring in from all over the country to buy pups from her.’ He took me to the dog-runs to show the pit bulls
these reflections out on Gerda. Nor, since it would have been unsettling, did I tell her that Philip, too, was unwell. He had been seeing a doctor. Tracy had him on a physical-fitness program. Mornings he entered the annex to the master bedroom, in which the latest gymnastic equipment had been set up. Wearing overlong silk boxer shorts (I reckon that their theme was the whiskey sour, since they were decorated with orange slices resembling wheels), he hung by his fat arms from the shining
Indiana, can I be as backward as I seem? But I am good company, and by and by he tells me (is it a secret?) that although he comes from Gloucester, Mass., he’s not a real Yankee. His father, a second-generation American, is a machinist, retired, uneducated. One of the old man’s letters reads, ‘Your poor mother – the doctor says she has a groweth on her virginia which he will have to operate. When she goes to surgery I expect you and your sister to be here to stand by me.’ There were two limping
his carved pumpkin mouth. He grins like Alfred E. Neuman from the cover of Mad magazine, the successor to Peck’s Bad Boy. His eyes, however, are warm and induce me to move closer and closer, but they withhold what I want most. I long for his affection, I distrust him and love him, I woo him with wisecracks. For he is a wise guy in an up-to-date postmodern existentialist sly manner. He also seems kindly. He seems all sorts of things. Fond of Brecht and Weill, he sings ‘Mackie Messer’ and trounces
sinister Occidental Petroleum with its Kremlin connections (that is a weird one to contemplate, undeniably). Supercapitalism and its carcinogenic petrochemical technology are linked through James Jesus Angleton, a high official of the Intelligence Community, to T. S. Eliot, one of his pals. Angleton, in his youth the editor of a literary magazine, had the declared aim of revitalizing the culture of the West against the ‘so-to-speak Stalinists.’ The ghost of T. S. Eliot, interviewed by Ginsberg on