Bellow was an early influence. No, "influence" isn't quite the right word; I didn't read him closely enough, or identify with him, or imitate him. But it has always been hard to ignore Bellow and the seriousness of his work. It might be time to dig a little deeper.
"If we are about to conclude our earth business--or at least the first great phase of it--we had better sum these things up. But briefly. As briefly as possible. . . Art increased, and a sort of chaos. More possibility, more actors, apes, copycats, more invention, more fiction, illusion, more fantasy, more despair. Life looting Art of its wealth, destroying Art as well by its desire to become the thing itself. . . Better, thought Sammler, to accept the inevitability of imitation and then to imitate good things. . . One could not be the thing itself--Reality. One must be satisfied with the symbols. Make it the object of imitation to reach and release the high qualities. Make peace therefore with intermediacy and representation. But choose higher representations. Otherwise the indificual must be the failure he now sees and knows himself to be. "
--from Mr. Sammler's Planet
You don't easily give up a creature like Bellow to death.