Worthy of Library of America

By Jay Furst

It’s hard to believe Saul Bellow is really gone. Bellow’s prose is so full of life, so packed with ideas and laughs and unforgettable characters, that it doesn’t seem possible we’ve really reached the end of the road for new works by one of America’s great writers.

Fortunately, the Library of America has come out with a second volume of Bellow’s novels to give his fans a fresh reason to get reacquainted with Moses Herzog, Eugene Henderson and his other heroes. This new volume includes Bellow’s breakthrough early novella, "Seize the Day," along with "Henderson the Rain King" and "Herzog," arguably his greatest claim to literary immortality, although who can argue with the earlier "Adventures of Augie March"?

In any case, pick up this beautifully produced addition to the Library of America series and skip ahead to "Herzog " first. As Herzog says, summarizing his philosophy, "The light of truth is never far away, and no human being is too negligible or corrupt to come into it."


Also on the shelf

"Land of Amber Waters: The History of Brewing in Minnesota," by Doug Hoverson (U of M Press, 352 pages, $39.95)

Every state should be so lucky as to have a history of local beers as lavish and immensely researched as "Land of Amber Waters." Hoverson, a teacher at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights, Minn., and an editor of a homebrewing journal, has an amazing appetite for Minnesota brews, and his affection for breweriana is clear on every page. You don’t have to be a fan of barley pop to appreciate this beautifully illustrated history.

"Gunflint: Reflections on the Trail," by Justine Kerfoot (U of M Press, 189 pages, $15.95)

Kerfoot, who died at age 95 in 2001, was a legend along the Gunflint Trail in northern Minnesota. For more than six decades she wrote her observations about life in the North Woods for the weekly paper in Grand Marais, Minn., and while her prose wasn’t stylish, she had a fine eye for the telling details in nature and people.

"The Breakthrough Company: How Everyday Companies Become Extraordinary Performers," by Keith McFarland (Crown Business, 271 pages, $27.50)

This one’s primarily for the CEO in your home. There are a few management tips for general readers to be gleaned, but McFarland is after bigger fish, the aggressive, entrepreneurial business owner who wants to achieve the kind of growth enjoyed by Fastenal, for example — and that Winona-based company and its top executives are featured prominently, as is Polaris Industries, based in Medina, Minn.

Among the things you learn about Fastenal founder Bob Kierlin: He’s "famous in the company for buying secondhand suits and for making annual trips around the country hitching rides with Fastenal truckers, eating dinner at McDonald’s, and sharing a room at the Days Inn."


Furst is the Post-Bulletin’s managing editor. Want to comment on this review? Send it to or P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903.

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