The short story “Zetland: By a Character Witness” offers a title character who, for sure, maintains a life of the mind. Coming from Saul Bellow, this is no surprise. It is also a love story, though. Zetland, or Zet, a philosophy student, meets and marries—is “delightfully married” to—Lottie. Initially having “no interest in surface phenomena,” he comes to appreciate the lot of a knowing but content man. “Ah, Lottie, I’ve been starving on symbolic logic,” Zet says. There is much to be said for surface phenomena.

Contrary to what some might suspect, “Zetland” is not too cerebral. It is a rather casual serio-comedy.