Actual ~ Saul Bellow

► door: A.IJ. van den Berg

For those of you who are in the illusion I read everything very fast and superficially, that does not happen always. I had already taken up this book more than three weeks ago. And even though it is only somewhere around 20,000 words long The Actual really took all this time to finish it.

That I did not like it that much had something to do with it.

For a book about love, The Actual had far more implicit love in it than any outspoken affection. However, okay, I can live with that. Understatement works for me.

There just was not much in it otherwise. The Chicago described looked strangely timeless. Apart from the use of a cellular phone, the story could have taken place in the 19th century. And the object of love just isn’t that remarkable a woman. At least, it doesn’t become clear why the main character is attracted to her; apart from the memories they share from the time, they were high school lovers, many decades before.

Unless Bellow states here that love is just a necessary illusion, which maybe doesn’t have much to do with how the significant other is.

Saul Bellow, The Actual
a novella

104 pages
Viking Penguin, 1997

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