Herzog by Saul Bellow (1964). Moses Herzog has two problems: his book on imagination and the intellect has stalled and his second wife has run away with his best friend. In response to his loneliness and alienation he writes letters—funny, scathing, ruminant, intensely self-aware—to people living and dead (including Friedrich Nietzsche and Willie Sutton) about his Jewish upbringing, old friends and lovers, and the world’s mad hypocrisy. Through Bellow’s prose, philosophically rich yet sprightly antic, the novel takes on this quest: “The dream of man’s heart, however much we may distrust or resent it, is that life may complete itself in significant pattern.”

Total Points: 7 (ST 7)