Friday, February 6, 2009

John Updike Redux

There's so much to say about the prolific john updike that i've filed a second story... and still didnt have room to get into topics like his take on male sexuality, his very funny Bech books, or his very fine art and book criticism. (his new yorker review of "my name is red" turned me on to turkish writer orhan pamuk, for instance.)

this piece came out of something i noticed over the years: when interviewing writers -- especially younger ones, experimentalists, literary science-fiction types, or west coast partisans -- i could often set my watch by how long it took them to knock udpike. it was a way of saying, "i dont do that stodgy, patriarchal realist stuff."

some of this, i imagine, is the usual generational warfare, as bret easton ellis suggests in my piece: eliot and his generation of modernists tore into the entire romantic tradition just as punk rockers initially  dismissed almost the entire school of '60s songcrafted that preceded them. but there's more to it than that.

anyway, hope readers enjoy the piece and i welcome comments. i must admit that in college, where i was a thomas pynchon devotee, i had some sympathy for the anti-updike argument.

Photo credit: Flictr user 19


Sam said...


Nice work on Updike. If you haven't seen the New Yorker compilation of Updikes work in the Feb. 9th and 16th double issue it is worth checking out. Essentially follows his work in snipets from 1955 to May 2008. I especially liked his piece on Ted Williams and the one written just after Kennedy's assasination (including the beautiful and tragic line, "Jacqueline Kennedy became Persephone, the Queen of Hades and the beautiful bride of grief). Keep up the good work on the blog.

Also, RE your makeout post, most Iron and Wine music or Beck Mutations.


Scott Timberg said...

saw that new yorker issue, which i intend to keep.

if this is the Sam who is my half-brother, i should mention that i GAVE you that beck mutations, for xmas perhaps, when you were like 10 or something!

i imagine that record took on new meaning as you moved into adolescence -- happy to have been a good big brother on this count!