Seize the Day

ISBN: 0142437611
ISBN 13: 9780142437612
By: Saul Bellow Cynthia Ozick

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About this book

Deftly interweaving humor and pathos, Saul Bellow evokes in the climactic events of one day the full drama of one man's search to affirm his own worth and humanity.

Reader's Thoughts

Ali Nazifpour

I'm afraid I couldn't like this novel although I wanted to. Yes, the writing is fantastic, the humor is cutting, the psychology of the characters is perfect - however, what I'm missing here is the point, the plot, the actual novella. It seems like an opening rather than the complete work. OK, we know Tommy. His life sucks and he's a loser. Cool. So what? The novel never goes beyond a portrait of its protagonist and its supporting characters. And just when you expect the story to begin, for the novel to do SOMETHING with these characters, it ends. I think of many merits this novella has. But if I ask myself "what I would've missed if I never read it", I can't think of anything, so I won't consider it a good work of fiction.I also disagree with any existentialist reading of this novel. Wilhelm's problem, his father's problems, his wife's problems, and Tamkin's, are not the weight of being and such philosophical grand standings, it's that they are unlikable bags of dildos, that they are deplorable human beings with no real problems. It's the ultimate bourgeois whining novel, the fakest angst. It reminded me of the rich boys who cry over their overpriced coffee in cafes.My impression is that Bellow wanted this to be a satire, but it's not a successful one.


Bellow is a master."On Broadway it was still bright afternoon and the gassy air was almost motionless under the leaden spokes of sunlight, and sawdust footprints lay about the doorways of butcher shops and fruit stores. And the great, great crowd, the inexhaustible current of millions of every race and kind pouring out, pressing round, of every age, of every genius, possessors of every human secret, antique and future, in every face the refinement of one particular motive or essence - I labor, I spend, I strive, I design, I love, I cling, I uphold, I give way, I envy, I long, I scorn, I die, I hide, I want. Faster, much faster than any man could make the tally."


The little novella ‘Seize the Day’ is rightly called a masterpiece. Like a modern Greek tragedy, we have in Tommy Wilhelm a protagonist who is facing the world closing in on him. Instead of shutting down, giving in or giving up, he feels very deeply. What he ask for is just a bare minimum of human understanding, of compassionSadly, his father, who is fiercely aloof, can’t provide this and regards him as a loser. He ex-wife demands even more alimony. He is swindled out of the little cash he has by a fast talking merchant of success.Having nowhere to turn, he absentmindedly joins a funeral possession, and upon seeing the body in the coffin, breaks down sobbing for all of us. A memorable conclusion.

Dennis Littrell

Bellow, Saul. Seize the Day (1956)A short novel, representative of Bellow's work"Seize the day, put no trust in the morrow" is what Horace wrote at the end of his first book of Odes a couple of thousand years ago. And ever since, youth has been urged to make hay while the sun shines since the bird of time is on the wing--to toss in a couple more homilies. But what Saul Bellow has in mind here is entirely ironic since his sad protagonist, Tommy Wilhelm Adler has never seized the day at all, much to his unfeeling father's disgust.This then is a tale of failure (one of Bellow's recurring themes) and the shame and self-loathing that failure may bring; and yet there is a sense, or at least a hint--not of redemption of course--but of acceptance and understanding at the end of this short existential novel by the Nobel Prize winner.The way that Bellow's drowning, existential man experiences the funeral as this novel ends is the way we should all experience a funeral, that is, with the certain knowledge that the man lying dead in the coffin is, or will be, us.And we should cry copious tears and a great shudder should seize us and we should sob as before God with the full realization that our day too will come, and sooner than we think--which is what big, blond-haired, handsome Jewish "Wilkie" Adler does. And in that realization we know that he has seen the truth and we along with him. An existential truth of course.The structure of the novel, like James Joyce's Ulysses, begins and ends in the same day. Through flashbacks from Adler's nagging consciousness, the failures and disappointments of his life are recalled. When he was just a young man he foolishly thought because of his good looks and the assurance of a bogus talent scout that he might become a Hollywood star; and so he spurned college and instead went to the boulevard of broken dreams as it runs toward Santa Monica.And so began the failure and dissolution of his life. As Bellow tells it, Wilhelm has slipped and fallen into something like a watery abyss. He can't catch his breath. He is drowning. He reaches out to his father, who turns away from him. He reaches out to Dr. Tamkin, the mysterious stranger, the clever fox of a man who swindles him and then disappears into the crowd of the great metropolis. He reaches out to his wife, who will also not extend a helping hand. Meanwhile, the waters about him have grown, and he is lost.We are all lost, more or less, except those who delude themselves, who have their various schemes and delusions to distract them, is what Bellow seems to be saying. Those of us who have not seized the day, a day that is fleeting and subtle, indefinite and hard to grasp, become so much water-logged driftwood.With resemblances to Albert Camus' The Stranger and Arthur Miller's Willy Loman, Bellow's Wilhelm is the essence of the anti-hero, literature's dominate strain of the mid-twentieth century. Such men have no firm or deep beliefs. They exist for the day, like butterflies, tossed about by circumstance all the while wondering why, but without any ability to rise above their predicament, a predicament that is so ordinary, so banal, so patently unheroic to be that of Everyman.And what is the answer? For Bellow and Camus and Miller, the answer is the finality of death. A man lives, goes about craving--"I labor, I spend, I strive, I design, I love, I cling, I uphold, I give way, I envy, I long, I scorn, I die, I hide, I want"--and for what and because of what? Like the tentmaker, Omar Khayyam, we wander willy-nilly without a clue, and then become so much dust in the wind.For life IS a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying in the end, nothing. All our labors are like those of Sisyphus pushing the stone up the hill only to watch it roll back down again.We cannot help but feel in reading this novel both a sense of empathy for the man who has failed, but at the same time, we might feel like his father and want to give him a kick and say, "Wilkie, get a grip on yourself. Quit making the same mistakes over and over again."But we know that for Wilhelm it is already too late. He cannot change his nature anymore than the leopard can change its spots. We sense the great hand of fate upon him, and we shudder. For in some respects--different respects of course--we could be him. And we straighten up our frame, we return to our duties and responsibilities, to our work and the rhythms of our lives secure in the knowledge that we are stronger that Wilhelm, that although the waves may toss us about, we will not sink. At least not yet.In reading this for the first time now half a century after it was written, I am struck with how different the zeitgeist is today. We have wildly successful heroes and larger-than-life murderous villains, and nowhere is there the existential man.This short work is a splendid representative of one of my favorite genres, the short, sharply focused American novel from the early or middle 20th century. Other--widely differing--examples are John O'Hara's Appointment in Samarra, Nathanael West's Miss Lonely Hearts, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, John Steinbeck's Cannery Row and Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, to name a few. --a review by Dennis Littrell

Erez Davidi

This is the first work by Saul Bellow that I have had the chance to read. I decided to start with this short novella, well… chiefly because it’s short. But also because I found the title “Seize the Day” to be intriguing.“Seize the Day” follows 24 hours in the life of Tommy Wilhelm, a 40-year old New Yorker, whose life is in shambles. He has two children and a wife, and although technically still married, they no longer live together. Wilhelm is also unemployed and pretty much out of money and luck, while at the same time having a troublesome relationship with his successful doctor dad, whose approval and sympathy he is desperately seeking. I thought that Bellow brilliantly illustrated the isolation that many people feel in our modern world. Although Wilhelm is almost never alone (many scenes in this novella take place in crowded places) he is feeling isolated and lonely more than ever. Though short, Bellow was able to create quite memorable characters along with bits of wisdom. Here are two beautiful quotes that I couldn't resist adding, “You can spend the entire second half of your life recovering from the mistakes of the first half.” and “Bringing people into the here-and-now. The real universe. That's the present moment. The past is no good to us. The future is full of anxiety. Only the present is real--the here-and-now. Seize the day.” Although “Seize the Day” is not considered to be one of Bellow’s greatest works, I still quite enjoyed it. I will definitely read one of Bellow’s longer works.


"...since there were depths in Wilhelm not unsuspected by himself, he received a suggestion from some remote element in his thoughts that the business of life, the real business -- to carry his peculiar burden, to feel shame and impotence, to taste these quelled tears -- the only important business, the highest business was being done. Maybe the making of mistakes expressed the very purpose of his life and the essence of his being here. Maybe he was supposed to make them and suffer from them on this earth. And though he had raised himself above Mr. Perls and his father because they adored money, still they were called to act energetically and this was better than to yell and cry, pray and beg, poke and blunder and go by fits and starts and fall upon the thorns of life. And finally sink beneath that watery floor -- would that be tough luck, or would it be good riddance?"

Harold Griffin

I loved this book and commend it to someone interested in sampling Bellow. Unlike "Herzog"and the formidable "Adventures of Augie March," the rich and engaging prose in this small novella is easily accessible. "Seize" is populated by only a few, but all memorable, characters. I'm not sure I would have loved this as a younger dino (say in my early Pennsylvanian period), but this year it resonates. Tommy Wilhelm was born Wilhelm ("Wilky") Adler, but changed his name when he tried and failed at a minor Hollywood career. He is a magnet for and the embodiment of financial and personal failure. Living with his father in a Broadway hotel, his hopes have dwindled. He is estranged from his wife, and his father, a doctor, is sufficiently embittered by Tommy's persistent failures and sufficiently close to the grave himself to be unwilling to spend any money to bail his son out of personal financial disaster. Thus, Tommy's hopes have come to rest on the infirm base of the dubious Dr. Tamkin, a quack psychologist, who adjures Tommy to "seize the day" by trusting in Tamkin's expertise in the commodities market (precisely an investment in lard: Lard love a quack!). Tommy himself suspects that Dr. Tamkin is a charlatan, but hopes that this time will be different and that there can be a happy ending. Can there? No spoilers here, except to say that the novel ends in an unforgettable explosion of grief and tears at a stranger's funeral.Like Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener," the events of "Seize the Day" take place on Broadway NYC. Cynthia Ozick in 1996 likened the two works to the Twin Towers. Ironically both these literary works, little in size, will bring memorable pleasure and sadness long after the vanished skyscrapers are finally replaced.


A deeply psychological novel, Seize the Day follows the middle-aged man in the life of a single day in New York City. "Psychological"... "single day"... Bellow's ante into the pool of single-day novels, alongside Joyce's Ulysses and Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, is a much slimmer volume than its fellow one-day wonders, but carries perhaps no less of a whollop. The story follows Tommy Wilhelm, a middle-aged man, a failed actor, a failed salesman, a husband whose wife refuses him a divorce but takes his money all the same, and a son who - despite his proximity and frequency of visits with his father, remains philosophically and emotionally estranged. The story is loaded with irony, but in the ironical mass there are small nuggets of truth: strange and wonderful insights into what it means to be alive. According to Herzog: Unexpected intrusions of beauty. That is what life is. And Seize the Day is studded with unexpected intrusions of beauty.For a thorough and well-written discussion of the psychoanalytical edge of this very psychological novella, I defer to s.penkavich's great review of this book. Bellow is a highly psychological writer, in Herzog he re-invents the Hamlet dilemma of betrayal (Herzog's wife Madeline standing in for Gertrude, his friend Gersbach for Claudius), and in Seize the Day we see a textbook case of suppressed emotion (as spenk points out: a lack of 'orgastic' release). The novella opens with this supression: When it came to concealing his troubles, Tommy Wilhelm was not less capable than the next fellow. So at least he thought and there was a certain amount of evidence to back him up. He conceals his troubles, but his troubles build and boil, wrack and rage beneath the surface, tear him away from the core outward. Wilhelm has self-proclaimedly 'reached the end of his rope' - he is in dire financial straits: unable to pay his rent for the month or support his demanding wife, he is without current employment, having dropped out of school to pursue of pipedream in Hollywood, then quit his job at the Rojax Corporation, where he worked as a salesman, when they divided up his territory. He has failed time and time again, and is won over by glamorous, but meretricious, opportunities which he pursues full-heartedly and abandons wallet-emptied. What strikes me as the reader is Wilhelm's imaginative vigor for what is new. Like the lovably-stupid Bouvard and Pécuchet, he endlessly pursues "new starts" - the consequence being that he remains in every endeavor a disappointed novice. At each junction of failure he faces the choice to 'crawl back' or to free-fall and hope to catch at a new opportunity before he reaches the ever-rising bottom: he chooses the later. It is a strange failure of human pride which prods us toward our own unhappiness. Our pride eludes us except for grand successes: each success raising and raising the bar, but only a small slip is enough for our pride to drop away beneath us. For Wilhelm, he has never, or rarely, experienced success, and each failure causes him to retreat more and more into himself, to hide away his failures in the shallow recesses of his remaining dignity. His socio-economic pressure compounds his troubles: his free-falls become more and more worrisome as he has less and less financial padding to cushion his imminent ruin.The most interesting and perplexing character of the novella, however, is Dr. Tamkin: Wilhelm's dubious and mysterious savior. A man of many tall tales, exaggerations, and flat-out lies, Tamkin offers Wilhelm the opportunity to invest in futures with him, guaranteeing him exorbitant profits. He is apparently a psychologist, an expert in hypnosis, an inventive man, but ultimately a shady figure, and likely a crook. He proselytizes his "seize the day" perspective, which borders on ironically religious, to Wilhelm, and frequently psychoanalyzes him to Wilhelm's dismay. The theme of time-perspective is prevalent throughout the novella, and reminded me of this article in the Wall Street Journal which discussed how time-perspective affected our moods. According to the parlance of "time-perspective therapy" it would seem that Wilhelm has a strongly past-negative, and perhaps present-fatalist outlook on his life. He is very much mired with regrets of his past: of his choice to leave school to pursue acting, his choice to get married, his choice to leave his wife, his choice to leave his job, etc. He is constantly reminded of these failures throughout his day and lacks a healthy outlet for relieving his burden: his father will not discuss his son's failures or give him the sympathy which Wilhelm so badly desires, his wife will not talk to him, and he has little else in the way of human contacts. What is ironic in Tamkin's plea for Wilhelm to "seize the day" and live in the "here-and-now" is that the great failures of Wilhelm's life have been made under just that operating mentality. Despite his belabored decision processes, his choices are ultimately made in gut-reactions to opportunities. He follows his instantaneous feelings and momentous emotions, and they continually lead him to undesired paths which he fails to follow through on.The background of futures trading strikes a particular key in the time-perspective theme. Futures contracts, to be technical, are purchased agreements to exchange goods at a future date, at a predetermined price. When they say that they have purchased contracts for "December rye" they mean that they have purchased the right to sell some quantity of rye-commodity, at some date in December, at the fixed price of the contract (the price fluctuates over time before narrowing in on the exact value as the day of exchange approaches). Wilhelm, whose view of the future is wary if not pessimistic, is in a state of constant agitation throughout the day: he fears the movement in prices and feels impotent but attached to his remaining small savings. He feels that Tamkin is swindling him, but due to his own ignorance and his invested hope in the potential "easy-money" he does not withdraw his savings. Wilhelm is always looking for some easy escape from his condition; he feels that his life thus-far has been very difficult and that at some point he must receive some manna-like relief. Tamkin, he believes, could be that relief, though his hope and his skepticism are constantly at odds throughout the day as he is fed psychology, platitudes, and unbelievable stories.The final release of Wilhelm's pent-up emotions, at the funeral of an unknown young man (perhaps about the age of Wilhelm himself, hence the excess of emotion), is his ultimate emotional release, but leaves the reader wondering about his still-precarious position. His savings have been decimated, his father has cast him out and refused to help him, Tamkin has disappeared, and he remains jobless with the growing demands of his wife and children. He tells himself that he will return to Olive (his mistress) and invests in her his next "new start" - but a new start which does not renew him, does not renew the reader's faith that he will succeed or even get by. His position remains impossible. Seize the Day is not Bellow's greatest novel, but it is an excellent exercise in the novella format, which from the beginning introduces a tension and unease which pervades the 118 pages.


I'm reading Saul Bellow backwards. I should've read Augie March, then Seize the Day, then Herzog. Instead I read Herzog first, the tale of a man at rock bottom. Now I've read about Wilhelm, a man who thinks he's at rock bottom but isn't. I have yet to read Augie March, but my impression is that he's a superego-type character. Perhaps for Bellow it shows his progress from the shallow heroes to the complicated. At any rate, I should get back to chronological order for Bellow's books. One of the strongest traits of Bellow is his ability to write lines that flow easily for the reader, while remaining conceptually dense. Seize the Day is only about 100 pages, covers only a few hours, and can be read in real time. It's practically a one act play in length, plot and treatment. By the end, I was tempted to think I understood the characters, but when I went back over it the story changed. Some writers provide easy answers to the questions they pose, and some writers force you to work out the answers for yourself, find your interpretation of them. A good writer like Bellow provides easy answers on the surface, and more difficult and somehow more plausible answers below the surface, at the same time.His recurring and strongest theme is the perception of success or happiness. Wilhelm seems tragic from the beginning, and will remain so in the eyes of the reader, even after it's revealed all that he has and squanders minute by minute. Wilhelm is simply overly dramatic and heavily reliant on the opinion of others. When his agent casts him as "the guy that loses the girl to the hero" he doesn't defend himself. Later he finds out that the agent was a scam artist, but Wilhelm still doesn't discount the agent's opinion. Throughout the plot, he embraces every negative situation and character, and rejects every good one. Dr. Tamkin readily takes advantage of this, spouting claptrap so freely and readily, that his pathological wisdom actually applies.Bellow's imagery throughout is immaculate. He slips in seemingly out-of-place metaphors, like the dust floating in the street as a woman on stilts, that may jar the reader a little but then make perfect sense, and even further the motif. His film-like setting descriptions are never egotistically motivated, always brief and always contribute to the character's mood. My favorite quote on page 89 is an example of Bellow's apropos imagery, representing Wilhelm's relationship with truth:"Wilhelm grasped at this 'Of course, of course I love him. My father...' As he said this there was a great pull at the center of his soul. When a fish strikes the line you feel the live force in your hand. A mysterious being beneath the water, driven by hunger, has taken the hook and rushes away and fights, writhing.... It did not reveal itself. It got away."


Astonishingly powerful novella structured around a day in the life of an actor manqué as he deals with a shrewish ex-wife, an untrustworthy "psychiatrist" who entangles him in the stock market, an icy father who (understandably) has grown tired of helping his middle-aged son out of financial binds, and with assorted feelings of acedia, alienation and desperation. In a brief number of pages, Bellow builds a very convincing miniature panorama of a single man adrift in an urban and emotional wasteland, with the protagonist's increasing distress becoming uncomfortably palpable as the day wears down. The book is not a total downer, though: there is snappy humor throughout, along with a sense of zestful wonder at the miracle of simply being alive (hey, don't roll your eyes!). The true knockout comes at the end: a conclusion that is as stirring and cathartic as any other that comes to mind.


Before I get into Saul Bellow's little powerhouse of a novel, a word about introductions, forewords, and prefaces.Unless I finish a novel with a feeling of wonder, I rarely read the introduction. Any kind of foreword usually functions to inflate the page count, advertise the book (why, if I'm already reading a book, do I need to read an ad for it?), and attach some big shot author's name with the work at hand.However, there are those few introductions which function as great literature in their own right. Tom Wolfe, in his introduction to Bonfire of the Vanities (I have yet to read the book, but I have read the introduction at least three times), offers readers a lucid, hilarious, paradigm-shifting look at the history of style and content in the modern novel. David Eggers, in the Preface to A Hearbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, confronts every imagined complaint about his memoir and vehemently defends his choices, offering a blazing portrait of the self-consciousness that he goes on to explore in the book. And, in the intro to Seize the Day by Saul Bellow, Cynthia Ozick effectively illuminates literature's unique power, and spotlights Bellow's work as a defining example of that force.She compares literature, with its descriptions and suggestions, to the pre-processed sights and sounds of television and cinema. She mourns the time when novels were a shared language in our culture, saying the following:"If literature can give new eyes to human beings, it is because the thing held in common is seperately imagined."A world where we all share a certain bibliography, with which we all interact in our own imaginations, is difficult to imagine. We just don't read that much anymore, and the volume of books being published scatters the few readers left to their own favored genres and authors.So, fellow readers, if we are to correct this problem, I suggest that we start with Seize the Day. I suggest this for a few reasons.First, the book is notably short. Barely over one hundred pages, it is compact in its time span, plot, and action. Second, its density is astounding. It packs in stunning, nuanced explorations of loyalty, generations, marriage, financial stress, cities, psychology, spirituality, and the quest for the soul. Third, on the tail end of the second, it presents us with a shared Truth which we seperately imagine: We each have a soul that transcends our circumstances.The book spends its time in the head of Tommy Wilhelm, a failed actor and an unemployed salesman, seperated from his family, living in an apartment near his retired father in New York. Wilhelm throws his money into one last gamble, trusting a purported psychologist and investing in lard.While the mind of a character has been a common setting for novels in recent years, Bellow's choice to paint the landscape of his character's inner life was an innovation in its time, and it still astounds and inspires in its result, despite the flood of followers.The final chapter, moving in response to Wilhelm's misfortunes and poor choices, plunges deep after the human soul, until it is out of sight.The way Wilhelm falls apart, the way he rages and fumes and fights and grieves, all suggests some presence beyond comprehension. Some guiding platonic reality that requires the complete obliteration of his pride, self-delusion, and wealth.Very little in the story goes the way we might hope. But when we leave Wilhelm's story, and we are filled with a new, deeper sense of hope that transcends the events of the book.So the book leaves us with a sense of assurance that there is a soul within the man, but it allows us to wonder at its nature and to wonder at our own souls as well.That, fellow readers, is an outcome well worth both our shared exploration and our individual imagination.


This was one of those read-all-night situations...I remember the apartment, the color of the sky between the blinds of the living room, I remember it coming through like scalding hot water and incoherently babbling my impressions and associations to my baffled, bemused friends...

Fred Bubbers

Originally published in 1957, Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day is considered one of the twentieth century’s finest works of fiction. It chronicles a single day in the life of one Tommy Wilhelm, a failed middle-aged actor, living on a precipice. Out of work, nearly broke, and estranged from his wife and children, he is haunted by all of the setbacks in his life and is searching for salvation in the form of an easy financial win that will solve all of his problems. On the advice of a mysterious psychologist, Dr. Tamkin, he has invested the last of his savings in the commodities market. Dr. Tamkin’s advice extends beyond investing and he provides advice to Wilhelm on how he should shed the burdens of his failed past and live in the here-and-now, in other words, to “Seize the Day.”Tamkin’s council and Wilhelm’s inability to shed his burdens only serve to heighten Wilhelm’s sense of failure. Wherever he seeks sympathy, whether it be his estranged wife who continues to make financial demands on him while refusing to divorce him or his father, a comfortably retired doctor, finds nothing but reminders of his failures.Born Wilhelm Adler, he changes his name to Tommy Wilhelm to further his acting career. His career never takes off and so he fails in his attempt to actually become Tommy Wilhelm, a failure he is constantly reminded of by his father who insists on addressing him as “Wilky,” his childhood name.Seize the Day is a distinctly American story. Whereas British fiction from Daniel Defoe on up through today’s Ian McEwan is preoccupied by social and economic class distinctions, American society prides itself on being free from class. No matter what station we are born into, we believe that through hard work, perseverance, and strength of character we can succeed. If we do not succeed, it is obviously due to some flaw in our character. American fiction has always explored the chasm that exists between that Great American Ideal (and mythology) and the stark reality that the Universe has no concept of fairness. American literary characters, unlike their British counterparts, are therefore imbued with a greater sense of anomie. While British heroes and heroines may struggle to overcome the rigid class distinctions in their society, and usually fail, there is at least the idea that there is a sense of order in the Universe, no matter how harsh it may be. American literary figures, from Dreiser’s Clyde Griffiths to Fitzgerald’s James Gatz to Salinger’s Holden Caulfield to Miller’s Willy Loman, fight not against society but against nothingness.Years after writing Seize the Day, Bellow said in interviews that never liked Tommy Wilhelm very much. Indeed, Wilhelm is not particularly likable and the reader is likely to feel as much sympathy for him as the other characters in the novella. “Stop whining, be a man, get a job!” we want to say to him. And yet, the story is compelling and unconsciously reaches those hidden parts of our psyche that fear the stark nothingness, and leads us to the novella’s surprisingly cathartic conclusion.


While Seize the Day is the first Saul Bellow book I have read, it sure as hell won't be my last! The book is set in a New York hotel off Broadway in the 1950s, (contemporaneous with when it was published) following the struggles of Tommy Wilhelm, a man in his mid forties who is the youngest member of the residence, the rest being Jews over the age of 70, including Tommy's own respected doctor father. Tommy has been a failure at everything; first acting, then his marriage, and most recently, his salesman job. Now, he can't even afford to make rent, and casts his lot in with the shadowy, possibly corrupt Doctor Tamkin. (Who might not even be a doctor!) Remarkably, in just 114 pages, Bellow creates a vivid, tangible world. While he is describing a by-gone era, I can recognize many of the individuals and personalities. Even minor characters feel distinctly alive. And his depth in portraying the thoughts and feelings of characters is incredible. Tommy is at once pathetic and sympathetic, a reflection of the weakness and broken dreams we all carry inside of ourselves. And yet, he is a fully realized character on his own, too. One reservation I had before starting the novel was whether it would be a dry character study and little else. I shouldn't have. Seize the Day is exciting, engaging, and sometimes even funny in a tragicomic manner. Every sentence feels significant. And the ending is the perfect, adequate conclusion to the tale of Tommy Wilhelm and his failures. This is an outstanding, all-time great book, and I would unreservedly recommend it to anyone.


Though I wasn't sure what to think of it when I started it, by the end of the book I came to like it.It's not easy to decide wether you like the main character or you hate it - at least for me it wasn't. I had to thoroughly think about his qualities and his deffects in order to see him in his complexity. After all that, I made my decision - I would not make a decision. I thought it best to remain impartial, and not pronounce on the matter.I had many times heard that Saul Bellow was one of the biggest writers that America had given to the world, and I have to agree with that. He has a different pattern, an unique talent to portray people and places (but mainly people) by full description in few words. All in all, a good read which I recommend to everyone!

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