Vintage, $32.95 pb, 263 pp, 9781742759913
Towards the end of Saul Bellow’s Humboldt’s Gift (1975), at the poet Von Humboldt Fleisher’s funeral on an April day in Chicago, Menasha Klinger, one of three mourners, points to a spring flower and asks Charlie Citrine, the novel’s narrator, to identify it. ‘Search me,’ Citrine replies, ‘I’m a city boy myself. They must be crocuses.’ This exchange has stayed with me for some thirty-five years. I, too, am a city boy, and couldn’t identify a crocus if I saw one.