Thursday, January 29, 2009

Updike ignorance being remedied

I have a confession: I have never read anything that John Updike (March 18, 1932 - January 27, 2009) has ever written. That is, until now. With the news of his death, I decided that I should at least read a couple of his novels and see for myself what I think. Today at the library, I picked out two novels from the collection (set aside in special display in his honor), and plan on reading them next week while I am on vacation.

I don't know if anyone thinks he deserves consideration for the greatest English fiction of the last century, but I anticipate that I will enjoy the two I selected (The Witches of Eastwick and In the Beauty of the Lilies) as a nice diversion from the kinds of things I might normally read. I expect Pulitzer winning authors to at least write in a style that I will find engaging . . .

I am intrigued by this quote I read in the NY Times obituary linked above:


“My subject is the American Protestant small-town middle class,” Mr. Updike told Jane Howard in a 1966 interview for Life magazine. “I like middles,” he continued. “It is in middles that extremes clash, where ambiguity restlessly rules.”

What motifs should I be looking for as I read Mr. Updike for the first time?

5 comments:

Tom Jackson said...

I haven't read Updike either, but I hear that he owes a great deal to the theology of Kierkegaard and Barth.

Matt Akins said...

I understand that he is fond of rabbits...

Divers and Sundry said...

Don't look for anything. Just read and enjoy. If you like 'em well enough you can look for stuff the next time through.

Jeff the Baptist said...

I'm in the same boat and, oddly enough, was going to pick up the same two books.

The Ironic Catholic said...

Honestly, I hate Updike. But you should read something and see what you think yourself. I can't recommend any one as being better than another.