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Henderson the Rain King
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Archive 2018 Group Reads > 2018 January: Canadian: Henderson the Rain King

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message 1: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (last edited Dec 29, 2017 07:14AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lesle | 5584 comments Mod
Suggested read for a Canadian Author is Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow

Solomon Bellows; 10 June 1915 – 5 April 2005) was a Canadian-American writer of Jewish origin. For his literary work, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts.

Henderson the Rain King is a 1959 novel with 341 pages that blends philosophical discourse and comic adventure has helped make it one of his most enduringly popular works.

Eugene Henderson is a troubled middle-aged man. Despite his riches, high social status, and physical prowess, he feels restless and unfulfilled, and harbors a spiritual void that manifests itself as an inner voice crying out I want, I want, I want. Hoping to discover what the voice wants, Henderson goes to Africa.

It is said to be Bellow's own favorite amongst his books.


message 2: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lesle | 5584 comments Mod
I am in on this one as soon as I finish my Christmas read.


message 3: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rosemarie | 8239 comments Mod
I have my copy ready for reading too.


message 4: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lesle | 5584 comments Mod
He starts out asking why?

Henderson is not a happy man. He has a wife and a bunch of kids, plenty of money, time to enjoy life.

He is a brute of a man! 6'4", 230lbs, rugged, a huge head, and hair like a lamb?

He is bored with life and acts as if he is a bum.


message 5: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rosemarie | 8239 comments Mod
He is one of a kind!


Michael Finocchiaro (fino) | 10 comments Loved this book! Enjoy!


message 7: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rosemarie | 8239 comments Mod
Thanks.


message 8: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lesle | 5584 comments Mod
Thank you Michael! and Happy New Year to you!


message 9: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lesle | 5584 comments Mod
Michael
I am struggling with this novel. Not sure why I am having a hard time connecting to Henderson. I usually get absorbed into the read and can picture everything in my head like I'm watching a movie. This one for some reason I feel like I am forcing myself to read. Which I hate as I know this is a novel that is highly regarded.

Do you have any thoughts on this? I even watched an interview he did trying to help. Maybe a different angle or?
I am at a loss.

Or anyone that has read and enjoyed it before? :(


message 10: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rosemarie | 8239 comments Mod
I am reading my way through the book and there are some very funny moments. I think Henderson himself takes some getting used to because of his overwnelming personality and physical stature.
It is not my type of book on the whole, but I am curious as to how it will end for Henderson.


message 11: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lesle | 5584 comments Mod
I think Rosemarie you are farther ahead than me. Maybe your right.


message 12: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rosemarie | 8239 comments Mod
The episode of the frogs is funny, in a warped sort of say. Henderson is not the brightest fellow at times.


message 13: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lesle | 5584 comments Mod
The frogs in the drinking water for the cows?


message 14: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rosemarie | 8239 comments Mod
Exactly, Lesle. Henderson has a not so brilliant idea to help rid the water of frogs.


message 15: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rosemarie | 8239 comments Mod
I finished the book. In a way, this book reminds me of Candide by Voltaire.
Henderson really is one of a kind.


Patrick I read Henderson the Rain King a number of years ago and adored it. I must read more Bellow! The only other book of his that I have read is Seize the Day, which is one of the finest short novels ever written.


message 17: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lesle | 5584 comments Mod
I beginning to think it is a guy thing. Both you and Michael love the book! Me not so much, so far!


message 18: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rosemarie | 8239 comments Mod
I finished it and enjoyed parts of it more than others. It was a unique experience. I liked it more than Catch 22, which tried to be funny but I didn't appreciate the humour,
Henderson was funny at times, and I enjoyed Bellow's writing style. I gave it 3 stars.


message 19: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lesle | 5584 comments Mod
A bomb? Really?


message 20: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rosemarie | 8239 comments Mod
He is not the brightest of the bunch, Lesle.


message 21: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lesle | 5584 comments Mod
No kidding!


message 22: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lesle | 5584 comments Mod
Mtalba is an odd character.


message 23: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rosemarie | 8239 comments Mod
He's not the only one!


message 24: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lesle | 5584 comments Mod
I believe this story to be a guys club read, This is the only way I can explain it to myself. They would find Henderson laughable and buffoonish. I had a hard time with it. I kept hoping he would find a stronger and likable character as the novel went along.
I liked Romilayu he was my only salvation.
I even took a break from the book, thinking it would change my mind. Read another short story and watched a Youtube interview with Saul and it was a good interview, I liked it. The book? Not so much.


message 25: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rosemarie | 8239 comments Mod
I think men and women have different opinions on this one.


Brian Reynolds | 3762 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I think men and women have different opinions on this one."

Maybe, and maybe not. I read this about 25 years ago, my first Bellow, and did not like it that much. Yes, I did give it 3 stars when I rated it years later on Goodreads, but that was a generous passing grade since I truthfully didn't like it.
I later read Augie March, a much better book BTW, only because I was reading everything, except for Finnegan's Wake, on the Modern Library 100 Best Novels list.


message 27: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lesle | 5584 comments Mod
Thank you Brian! I was afraid I was being to harsh. Maybe at some point I will try Augie March.


message 28: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rosemarie | 8239 comments Mod
I guess you can't judge an author on just one book, unless they only wrote one book.


message 29: by Inese (last edited Jan 19, 2018 12:59AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Inese Okonova | 69 comments I must confess I took the book in my hands only because of this group read. The reason for my skepticism is fact that I am no particular fan of Hemingway, to put it mildly. And there is obviously a connection between Henderson and great EH.
BUT I did enjoy the read. I liked the humor which was partly brutish and shameless and partly childish. I felt the author is managing making a reverence and laughing at the EH at the same time. (And it saved my read) But it is not a parody of EH either.
The same goes for theme of finding one's self. I really dislike books about well-off Westerners searching for spirituality in remote (and poor) corners of the world. And yes, it is a main theme in Bellow's book as well but there is also self-irony and humor enough. So, I really liked it and I think I will read more Bellow in future.


message 30: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rosemarie | 8239 comments Mod
I am glad you enjoyed it Ines. I think the ending scene is particularly touching, the giant man and the small boy gazing at the ocean, with the blanket around the boy to keep him warm.


message 31: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lesle | 5584 comments Mod
Inese, I too am happy you found the humor that Bellow was projecting!

Rosemarie the ending did give me some hope. It made me think there was a different side of Henderson. Someone I would appreciate more.


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Saul Bellow (other topics)