Books: The Good Guy

HERZOG by Saul Bellow. 341 pages. Viking. $5.75.

It may be that Saul Bellow is just too nice a guy. He obviously wishes the world well; he wants the world to be pleased with him; and this benevolence, or "potato love," as Bellow calls it, may have damaged the work of a writer who has long been on the threshold of the U.S. literary pantheon but has never quite managed the "big" novel that would put him there permanently.

Bellow's early novel, The Victim, had the tension of tragedy: an eerie encounter between a Jew and an anti-Semite in which the Jew turns...

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