Books: Victims Of Contemporary Life MORE DIE OF HEARTBREAK

Although he hardly wants for honors (three National Book Awards, the Nobel Prize for Literature), Saul Bellow has not always been appreciated for his comic gifts. That may be because his books and reputation can appear so intimidating. When a serious, renowned writer tosses out big ideas, the proper response seems to be a hushed, respectful concentration. But at least as far back as Herzog (1964), Bellow began putting the act of thinking through some antic paces. Moses Herzog was the first, but not the last, of the author's heroes to suffer the risible torments of the hypereducated man. Notable among...