John Updike's book reviews
December 11, 2011 7:48 PM   Subscribe

All told, Updike has published more than a million words on books. ... In Picked-up Pieces (1975), Updike’s second collection of essays, he lists his rules for reviewing... Without coyness, Updike renders a stern judgment based on telling quotation. He builds toward his findings in plain sight, earning him an authority that is based on his presentation of a plausible case.

John Updike's book reviews are collected in Assorted Prose (1965), Picked-up Pieces (1975), Hugging the Shore (1983), Odd Jobs (1991), More Matter (1999), Due Considerations (2007) - and now the posthumous Higher Gossip.
posted by Trurl (6 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Updike is a great writer... I'm just at my mother-in-law's place in Japan (I only get here once every 18 months or so) and found "Licks of Love" collection with its great novella "Rabbit Remembered" I bought about 10 years or so ago (before 9/11 - I'll always remember Updike's short piece on watching the Twin Towers get attacked).

I've also got a stack of New Yorker magazines from the 90s and the first half of the last decade, with tons of great essays and stories by Updike.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:32 PM on December 11, 2011

Thanks, I enjoyed this. As a newspaper reviewer, however, I don't get the print acreage to quote chunks of the work reviewed that are large enough to let the reader form their own opinion on my judgement, much as the idea appeals to me in theory. I like the contrapuntal nature of it, I like the dialogical openness of the idea, I just don't get the space to do it.
posted by Wolof at 2:52 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

TIL where Globe sports journo Dan Shaughnessy got the title of his grab-bag column.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:08 AM on December 12, 2011

I've been reading a lot of Hugging the Shore lately and he really is such an excellent reviewer; as honest and generous as you would hope reading those guidelines, truly well and widely read (you wonder how someone who wrote so much managed also to read so damn much), interesting, and, on top of all that, he writes like a regular Updike. Thanks for the post!
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:56 AM on December 12, 2011

I thought the whole "Rabbit" series was a really fresh way to look at America through the decades.

I heard Updike's last collection of criticism -- published this year -- was haunted by the fact that he knew he was dying, and he had to confront the toll that aging took on his mind...
posted by destinyland at 9:19 AM on December 12, 2011

Anything that keeps Updike from writing his own books is a lifesaver - for him and us.
posted by Twang at 7:33 PM on December 12, 2011

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