Looks like we already have a contender for our 2014 book of the year, Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King. The opening two and a half paragraphs absolutely knocked my socks off, ht KW:

show_adf3d85f933d228dd930db25d88c7b82What made me take this trip to Africa? There is no quick explanation. Things got worse and worse and pretty soon they were too complicated.

When I think of my condition at the age of fifty-five when I bought the ticket, all is grief. The facts begin to crowd me and soon I get a pressure in the chest. A disorderly rush begins–my parents, my wives, my girls, my children, my farm, my animals, my habits, my money, my music lessons, my drunkenness, my prejudices, my brutality, my teeth, my face, my soul! I have to cry, “No, no, get back, curse you, let me alone!” But how can they let me alone? They belong to me. They are mind. And they pile into me from all sides. It turns to chaos.

However, the world which I thought so mighty an oppressor has removed its wrath from me. But if I am to make sense to you people and explain why I went to Africa I must face up to the facts. I might as well start with the money. I am rich. From my old man I inherited three million dollars after taxes, but I thought myself a bum and had my reasons, the main reason being that I behaved like a bum. But privately when things got very bad I often looked into books to see whether I could find some helpful words, and one day I read, “The forgiveness of sins is perpetual and righteousness first is not required.” This impressed me so deeply that I went around saying it to myself. But then I forgot which book it was.