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Seize the Day  By  cover art

Seize the Day

By: Saul Bellow
Narrated by: Grover Gardner
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Publisher's Summary

Fading charmer Tommy Wilhelm has reached his day of reckoning and is scared. In his forties, he still retains a boyish impetuousness that has brought him to the brink of chaos: he is separated from his wife and children; at odds with his vain, successful father; failed in his acting career (a Hollywood agent once placed him as “the type that loses the girl”); and in a financial mess. In the course of one climactic day he reviews his past mistakes and spiritual malaise, until a mysterious, philosophizing con man grants him a glorious, illuminating moment of truth and understanding and offers him one last hope.

Saul Bellow (1915–2005), author of numerous novels, novellas, and stories, was the only novelist to receive three National Book Awards. He also received the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

©1956 1974 by Saul Bellow. renewed 1984 by Saul Bellow (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“It is the special distinction of Mr. Bellow as a novelist that he is able to give us, step by step, the world we really live each day - and in the same movement to show us that the real suffering of not understanding, the deprivation of light. It is this double gift that explains the unusual contribution he is making to our fiction.” ( New York Times)

What listeners say about Seize the Day

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Why?

I don’t get it. I read 9 other novels by Bellow. I love his art. But for this bland novel to be considered more important than Augie March, Humboldt gift, or Herzog has only one explanation to me. This is the shortest of his novels, so I imagine that it is the most widely read. I can’t find another reason. I never thought I’ll appraise any book by Saul Bellow lower than 5 stars, but I guess that day has come. Oh well.

3 people found this helpful

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Seize the terrible freedom of the American Dream

“You can spend the entire second half of your life recovering from the mistakes of the first half.”

2 people found this helpful

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read all of Bellow's work, this one...

...left me utterly frustrated. I liked or loved the other ones, but not this one.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent Story and Narration!

SEIZE THE DAY is a novel about Tommy Wilhelm (né Wilhelm Adler), a man who is trying to make something of his life after a series of disappointments, failures, and bad luck. A marriage on the edge of divorce and an affair on the edge of marriage (if the divorce should come through), Wilhelm’s relationship with his father, the aging Dr. Adler (a medical doctor), and the decision to invest his life’s savings in lard futures—these are the concerns of Wilhelm’s present as he tries to “make something of himself” and “find himself” in New York City.

A remarkable novel by Canadian-American novelist Saul Bellow, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and three-time winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.

1 person found this helpful

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If Only..................

If this had been Saul Bellow's only novel, then none of us would ever know his name as a great writer. The only reason I can imagine this book gains praise is the fact that it is a quick read (or "listen" if you're an audio-book fan). I listened to all 4 hours of it, however if it had been longer then I'd have given up after only 2 hours. I found it totally dull, unremarkable and unmemorable in every way. The popularity of "Seize the Day" can only be explained by 2 words: IT"S SHORT

1 person found this helpful

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A Powerful Gut Punch

Though published in 1956, Seize the Day is perhaps even more relevant today. An elegy to American, white male ascendence and expectation, the story takes place over one day, in which all of the failures of the main character come into terrible focus. Grover Gardner is great, as usual, and a great choice for the work of Bellow. I consider myself one who is pretty well read in the canon of great American literature but this relatively minor book of Bellow's had escaped me. I highly recommend it.

1 person found this helpful

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A sad day in the life of a man

Today is the day of reckoning for failed actor... Failed extra turned speculator Tommy Willham.
He is a broken man trying to come to grips with an unloving dismissive father and an ex wife wants all and more from Tommy.
This is on of Bellow's sadder tales but worth while and interesting!
Well narrated and full of characters you can't help but relate to.

1 person found this helpful

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This book was great

I found this book to be very well written. I further found this book to be developmental and maturative for a young man coming of age like myself. I highly recommended it.

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Great book

read this 10 years ago, great to revisit this. great characters. I put narration at 90% speed, otherwise it was too fast for me (perhaps because English isn't my first language).

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What a powerful writer and a great reading

I am shamed to say it is my first bellow. OMG! The power of a generational writer is right there. It has a thinking man needs. The conflicts, family issues and dynamic, philosophy and mystery are fully developed in a tautly packed story.
I can not help moving on next Bellow work.
Grover Gardner is amazingly as always

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  • Edward Crussell
  • 11-24-21

poignant

existential dread, growing old, wasted time, a deep feeling of insignificance, and all that good stuff.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark
  • 10-12-21

A Day in the Life...

This novel struck me as the execution of a technical experiment by the author to cram as much as possible into one day in the life of a not very pleasant lead character. As such it succeeds but he's such a self pitying loser that I felt no real sympathy for him and rather admired the old goat who fleeced him and the father and wife who despised him for his pathetic weakness.

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  • Mahmood
  • 06-06-17

Worthy of All the Praise

Great characters and a fascinating story. Beautifully written. My first Saul Bellow read. I want more!

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  • hfffoman
  • 05-19-14

Slighly annoying book about very annoying people

Any additional comments?

I can't say it isn't a good book. It is well written and insightful. It just isn't a great pleasure to read. The lead character is so unlikeable I found myself hoping he would have a heart attack and the book would end. The rest of the characters aren't much better. It is actually something of an achievement to cram so many character flaws into one short account