"Bellow's letters take the reader through a long and replete—'capacious' is his wife's word for it—life. The earliest surviving letter was written at the age of 17, when he was on holiday with one of his two brothers. In it, Bellow breaks off with a childhood girlfriend, Yetta Barshevsky. It is thrilling. Already, you can see a future novelist at work. 'It is dark now and the lonely wind is making the trees softly whisper and rustle. Somewhere in the night a bird cries out to the wind. My brother in the next room snores softly, insistently. The country sleeps...Over me the light swings up and back, up and back. It throws shadows on the paper, on my face. I am thinking, thinking, Yetta, drifting with night, with infinity, and all my thoughts are of you.'"