Pulitzer Book Club Inclusion Guide

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"Humboldt's Gift" by Saul Bellow

INCLUSION MILESTONES

1976

• 89-year old Arthur Rubinstein performs at Carnegie Hall
• “Linda the Librarian,” who is deaf, debuts on Sesame Street
• Jobs age 21 and Gates age 20 co-found Apple and Microsoft™


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AUTHOR INSPIRATIONS

Bellow’s family from Montreal to a Humboldt Park tenement in Chicago when he was nine. Told that many universities would not hire a Jewish professor to teach English literature, Bellow dropped out of University of Wisconsin’s grad school. Bellow, fluent in Yiddish, Hebrew, French and English, ultimately taught at several universities including Princeton.

Featured Reader Wanted!

Featured Reader

– Share your key take-away about inclusion in this book in a sentence or two.
– Write a paragraph or two (up to 250 words) to describe your thoughts on exclusion/inclusion in the book, why you related or did not connect with the book, and why you think reading, inclusion and dialog about inclusion matter.
– Identify the name and website address of a cause you support with an inclusive mission.

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Friendship blows up as one writer succeeds, other loses it

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Charlie follows orders and hands-off a roll of $50s in the Playboy Club while chatting with a well-known gossip columnist, only to be told by gun-toting gangster that he screwed up and must turn over the money again in front of a different audience.

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Literary, poetic, philosophical, psychological, theological, artsy, romantic wrapper around rise-and-fall career arc stories. A look at fame, success, money, respect, broken relationships, mental health through a lens that is comic, absurd, and sad.ow’s family from Montreal to a Humboldt Park tenement in Chicago when he was nine. Told that many universities would not hire a Jewish professor to teach English literature, Bellow dropped out of University of Wisconsin’s grad school. Bellow, fluent in Yiddish, Hebrew, French and English, ultimately taught at several universities including Princeton.

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18 audio hours or 512 demanding pages. Endless intellectual winks, references and asides along with pop-up philosophical wonderings.

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Accessibility. Be clear and memorable without being insulting, boring or pretentious.

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All about White-on-White intellectual sparring matches between poet and protégé playwright and their beautiful women, friends, and colleagues. Even the mobster has a PhD candidate wife studying poetry.

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Go for a Chicago steak house gangster vibe: be sure there’s champagne. Remember “Tolstoi thought that people got into trouble because they ate steak and drank vodka and coffee and smoked cigars. Over-charged with calories and stimulants and doing no useful labor they fell into carnality and other sins. At this point I always remembered that Hitler had been a vegetarian, so it wasn’t necessarily the meat that was to blame.”
Or go NJ barren backlands with turkey, lots of beer and wine, an Ann Page coffee cake and melting maple-walnut ice cream before you head off to Princeton.
Or serve a day-before cardiac surgery binge of smoked fish and persimmons.

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“America is a didactic country whose people always offer their personal experiences as a helpful lesson to the rest, hoping to hearten them and to do them good – an intensive sort of personal public-relations project.”

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Russian bathhouse or spa. Poker table, racquet ball club, your successful sibling’s house also work.

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How does a young person find their mentor?
How can a mentor lead a young people in a way that inspires inclusiveness?
What are the life-long responsibilities of a mentor? Protégé?
How could you deal with a friend in a downward spiral?
What are your thoughts on jury duty/service?
How/why do people with financial resources become the victims of predators? How are people without financial resources abused financially?

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While in Chicago, ride an elevator on an unfinished skyscraper; if that’s too scary, check out the view from The Ledge that extends out from the Skydeck outside the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Don’t park your Benz where it might get beaten with a baseball bat. Alternatively, go to NYC and take helicopter and limo rides, check out a Broadway show with a showy, brilliant fallen hero stay at the Plaza in a suite because the top floor rooms with the mansard windows aren’t good enough. Complain bitterly when you take the subway to a nursing home on Coney Island.
Or stay in a Spanish pension (or stay home) and do a lot of introspection and unpaid nanny-work.

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BBC’s 2nd House did an episode on Humboldt’s Gift in 1975.

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“Herzog” (1964).