This fall’s One Book, One Chicago choice is Saul Bellow’s The Adventures of Augie March, which is a semi-autobiographical bildungsroman of a young man growing up in Chicago back in the day, with one of Chicago literature’s most famous opening lines–“I am an American, Chicago born–Chicago, that somber city–and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent. But a man’s character is his fate, says Heraclitus, and in the end there isn’t any way to disguise the nature of the knocks by acoustical work on the door or gloving of the knuckles.”
When I read it, I didn’t think too much of the plot or the characters to be honest, though Augie was interestingly drawn–reminded me of a young Rabbit Angstrom years before there was a Rabbit Angstrom, but I loved seeing the picture of life in historic Chicago, and the language, my word, Saul Bellow could write a sentence…gorgeous passage after gorgeous passage. Stunners.
To celebrate, I’m going to post some of my favorite passages this week, leading up to Thursday’s panel discussion of the book featuring Professors Domenico Ferri and Stephen Burnett, hosted by Professor Judy Rivera-van Schagen.