At a time when New York editors have been heard to say “literary biography is dead” and when publishers prefer the three-hundred-page life, top-of-the-line presses are still managing to birth behemoths like the first volume of Zachary Leader’s gazetteer, with chapter headings such as “Russia/Abraham,” “Liza/Canada,” “Chicago/Maury,” and later, “New York,” “Minneapolis,” “Paris.” Saul Bellow’s life is canonized in quasi-biblical fashion. Granted, Bellow is a Nobel laureate, but his...


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