Janice George (JG) George's Reviews > Henderson the Rain King

Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow
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What an odd, captivating story... or, more accurately, what a strange, charming, obnoxious, clueless, innocent, passionate, genuine hero is Henderson -- seeker extraordinaire and ridiculous.

Henderson is our relentless, amazing narrator, and here are some things he has to say (these are not spoilers):

"I might have added, as it entered my mind to do, that some people found satisfaction in being... Being. Others were taken up with becoming. Being people have all the breaks. Becoming people are very unlucky, always in a tizzy. The Becoming people are always having to make explanations or offer justifications to the Being people. While the Being people provoke the explanations. I sincerely feel that this is something everyone should understand about me...And if I had really been capable of the alert consciousness which it required I would have confessed that Becoming was beginning to come out of my ears. Enough! Enough! Time to have Become. Time to be! Burst the spirit's sleep. Wake up, America! Stump the experts. Instead I told this savage king, 'I seem to be kind of a tourist.'"

To burst the spirit's sleep is Henderson's goal in his journey through Africa.

Another sample of Henderson's thoughts --

"If you want to know something, it wasn't the first time in recent years by any means that I had addressed some words to God... And I prayed and prayed, 'Oh, you . . . Something,' I said, 'you Something because of whom there is not Nothing. Help me to do Thy will. Take off my stupid sins. Untrammel me. Heavenly Father, open up my dumb heart and for Christ's sake preserve me from unreal things...'"

And Saul Bellow's presence is everywhere --

"Then he [King Dahfu] sighed and said... 'Fear is a ruler of mankind. It has the biggest dominion of all. It makes you white as candles. It splits each eye in half. More of fear than of any other thing has been created,' he said. 'As a molding force it comes second only to Nature itself.'"

I grew to love Henderson. I will miss him.

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