Updike: Times reviews of recent works
October 27, 2008
Who, a year or two ago, could have imagined that October 2008 would heap on us so many tricks and so few treats? This Halloween season must have looked heaven-sent for publication of "The Widows of Eastwick," John Updike's return to the ravishingly wicked trio of his bestselling, gleefully raunchy 1984 novel, "The Witches of Eastwick."
October 28, 2007
If John Updike had written nothing but novels, his career would still have an almost Victorian amplitude. Since 1959, he has published 22 stout, supple fictions crammed with the minutiae of American life and perfumed, much of the time, with sexual effluvia. The "Rabbit" series alone would make him a major novelist. Yet the bright book of life, as D.H. Lawrence called it, has never been sufficient to devour all of Updike's prodigious energies. Short stories, light verse, children's books, art appreciation, an anthology of musings on golf -- all have poured forth from the atelier in Ipswich, Mass., in the sort of industrial quantities that once prompted Martin Amis to call Updike a "psychotic Santa of volubility."
June 5, 2006
THOUGH he has published six books since 2000, John Updike, it seems, really wants our attention. "Terrorist." You knew, sooner or later, he was going to get around to this -- shocks to the American system are an Updike specialty (see, among others, "Rabbit Is Rich" or "In the Beauty of the Lilies"). Now he has tackled the mother of all shocks head-on: the 9/11 era, Muslim rage, the whole megillah.
November 16, 2003
Until the rise of the suburbs after the Second World War, you could pretty much divide American authors of fiction into country writers and city writers. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner are in the former category; Henry James, Edith Wharton, Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald belong in the latter. Suburbia changed that. A writer who set his or her stories in the suburbs could portray an environment with greater comprehensiveness, linger longer over details, tease more out of a situation at a slower pace, while at the same time investing his or her fictions with the city's dense psychic energy. Updike's best stories, lush with detail, taut with edge, are like that; so, too, are John Cheever's.
November 19, 2000
LICKS OF LOVE Short Stories and a Sequel, 'Rabbit Remembered' By John Updike; Alfred A. Knopf: 360 pp., $25
February 20, 2000
Only John Updike could turn Hamlet's melancholy metaphysics into a saga of love and betrayal in the suburbs. There are moments when "Gertrude and Claudius," a prequel to Shakespeare's "Hamlet," is strikingly reminiscent of "Couples," Updike's examination of marital infidelity in the suburbs in the early 1960s. Despite the jangle of the warriors' chain mail, the icy drafts whistling through the royal castle at Elsinore and the drunken excesses of the mead hall, this adulterous romance between Hamlet's mother and her husband's brother could just as easily have taken place on a king-sized bed at the Holiday Inn.
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