Usually, when I can’t get into a book, I stop around page 50 and move on. I read an article a few years ago that said if you’re not interested at that point, you probably won’t ever be, so you might as well read on. That’s not always the case, of course. The Satanic Verses starts slowly, and so does The Grapes of Wrath, but I liked both of them in the end.
I made it far past the 50-page mark with Herzog, and I never got into it. I just do not care what happens to Herzog. He’s about forty, divorced twice, a failed professor, etc (kind of like the protagonoist, whose name I don’t remember, of Disgrace). He writes letters to people, and as he writes them, he reminisces about the circumstances surrounding their subjects. And he just goes on and on and on. I made it almost halfway through, and it seems that if something was going to happen, it would have happened by this point.
Herzog isn’t my first experience with Saul Bellow. A couple years ago, I read Seize the Day, which I really liked, though I only vaguely remember what it’s about. A few years before that, there was Henderson the Rain King, which I remember liking, though all I know is that it involved a guy going to somewhere in Africa and meeting some natives. I didn’t make it through that one, either, but I’m not sure why. I’m not even sure if I would make it through Seize the Day if it had been any longer. Maybe I’m just not the Bellow type.