Library
Delicious Library
Collection Total:
2,848 Items
Last Updated:
Aug 8, 2019
Always Looking: Essays on Art
John Updike, Christopher CarduffIn this posthumous collection of John Updike’s art writings, a companion volume to the acclaimed Just Looking (1989) and Still Looking (2005), readers are again treated to “remarkably elegant essays” (Newsday) in which “the psychological concerns of the novelist drive the eye from work to work until a deep understanding of the art emerges” (The New York Times Book Review).

Always Looking opens with “The Clarity of Things,” the Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities for 2008. Here, in looking closely at individual works by Copley, Homer, Eakins, Norman Rockwell, and others, the author teases out what is characteristically “American” in American art. This talk is followed by fourteen essays, most of them written for The New York Review of Books, on certain highlights in Western art of the last two hundred years: the iconic portraits of Gilbert Stuart and the sublime landscapes of Frederic Edwin Church, the series paintings of Monet and the monotypes of Degas, the richly patterned canvases of Vuillard and the golden extravagances of Klimt, the cryptic triptychs of Beckmann, the personal graffiti of Miró, the verbal-visual puzzles of Magritte, and the monumental Pop of Oldenburg and Lichtenstein. The book ends with a consideration of recent works by a living American master, the steely sculptural environments of Richard Serra.

John Updike was a gallery-goer of genius. Always Looking is, like everything else he wrote, an invitation to look, to see, to apprehend the visual world through the eyes of a connoisseur.
Assorted Prose
John UpdikeJohn Updike’s first collection of nonfiction pieces, published in 1965 when the author was thirty-three, is a diverting and illuminating gambol through midcentury America and the writer’s youth. It opens with a choice selection of parodies, casuals, and “Talk of the Town” reports, the fruits of Updike’s boyish ambition to follow in the footsteps of Thurber and White. These jeux d’esprit are followed by “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu,” an immortal account of Ted Williams’s last at-bat in Fenway Park; “The Dogwood Tree,” a Wordsworthian evocation of one Pennsylvania childhood; and five autobiographical essays and stories. Rounding out the volume are classic considerations of Nabokov, Salinger, Spark, Beckett, and others, the earliest efforts of the book reviewer who would go on to become, in The New York Times’s estimation, “the pre-eminent critic of his generation.” Updike called this collection “motley but not unshapely.” Some would call it a classic of its kind.
Higher Gossip: Essays and Criticism
John Updike, Christopher CarduffA collection both intimate and generous of the eloquent, insightful, beautifully written prose works that John Updike was compiling when he died in January 2009.

This collection of miscellaneous prose opens with a self-portrait of the writer in winter, a Prospero who, though he fears his most dazzling performances are behind him, reveals himself in every sentence to be in deep conversation with the sources of his magic. It concludes with a moving meditation on a modern world robbed of imagination—a world without religion, without art—and on the difficulties of faith in a disbelieving age. In between are previously uncollected stories and poems, a pageant of scenes from seventeenth-century Massachusetts, five late "golf dreams," and several of Updike's commentaries on his own work. At the heart of the book are his matchless reviews—of John Cheever, Ann Patchett, Toni Morrison, William Maxwell, John le Carré, and essays on Aimee Semple McPherson, Max Factor, and Albert Einstein, among others. Also included are two decades of art criticism—on Chardin, El Greco, Blake, Turner, Van Gogh, Max Ernest, and more.

Updike's criticism is gossip of the highest order, delivered in an intimate and generous voice.
Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism
John UpdikeWINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD
 
“Writing criticism is to writing fiction and poetry as hugging the shore is to sailing in the open sea,” writes John Updike in his Foreword to this collection of literary considerations. But the sailor doth protest too much: This collection begins somewhere near deep water, with a flotilla of short fiction, humor pieces, and personal essays, and even the least of the reviews here—those that “come about and draw even closer to the land with another nine-point quotation”—are distinguished by a novelist’s style, insight, and accuracy, not just surface sparkle. Indeed, as James Atlas commented, the most substantial critical articles, on Melville, Hawthorne, and Whitman, go out as far as Updike’s fiction: They are “the sort of ambitious scholarly reappraisal not seen in this country since the death of Edmund Wilson.” With Hugging the Shore, Michiko Kakutani wrote, Updike established himself “as a major and enduring critical voice; indeed, as the pre-eminent critic of his generation.”
In the Beauty of the Lilies
John UpdikeWhen Clarence Wilmot, a Presbyterian clergyman, loses his faith and becomes an encyclopedia salesman, he opens the saga of one American family's twentieth-century relationship with God and all things religious.
John Updike: The Collected Stories
John UpdikeFrom his first collection, The Same Door, released in 1959, to his last, My Father’s Tears, published fifty years later, John Updike was America’s reigning master of the short story, “our second Hawthorne,” as Philip Roth described him. His evocations of small-town Pennsylvania life, and of his own religious, artistic, and sexual awakening, transfixed readers of The New Yorker and of the early collections Pigeon Feathers (1962) and The Music School (1966). In these and the works that followed—the formal experiments and wickedly tart tales of suburban adultery in Museums and Women (1972) and Problems (1979), the portraits of middle-aged couples in love and at war with aging parents and rebellious children in Trust Me (1987) and The Afterlife (1994), and the fugue-like stories of memory, desire, travel, and unquenched thirst for life in Licks of Love (2000) and My Father’s Tears (2009)—Updike displayed the virtuosic command of character, dialogue, and sensual description that was his signature.
 
Here, in two career-spanning volumes, are 186 unforgettable stories, from “Ace in the Hole” (1953), a sketch of a Rabbit-like ex-basketball player written when Updike was a Harvard senior, to “The Full Glass” (2008), the author’s “toast to the visible world, his own impending disappearance from it be damned.” Based on new archival research, each story is presented in its final definitive form and in order of composition, established here for the first time. This unprecedented collection of American masterpieces is not just the publishing event of the season, it is a national literary treasure.
The Maples Stories
John Updike(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

Collected together for the first time in hardcover, these eighteen classic stories from across John Updike’s career form a luminous chronicle of the life and times of one marriage in all its rich emotional complexity.

In 1956, Updike published a story, “Snowing in Greenwich Village,” about a young couple, Joan and Richard Maple, at the beginning of their marriage. Over the next two decades, he returned to these characters again and again, tracing their years together raising children, finding moments of intermittent happiness, and facing the heartbreak of infidelity and estrangement. Seventeen Maples stories were collected in 1979 in a paperback edition titled Too Far to Go, prompted by a television adaptation. Now those stories appear in hardcover for the first time, with the addition of a later story, “Grandparenting,” which returns us to the Maples’s lives long after their wrenching divorce.
My Father's Tears and Other Stories
John UpdikeJohn Updike’s first collection of new short fiction since the year 2000, My Father’s Tears finds the author in a valedictory mood as he mingles narratives of his native Pennsylvania with stories of New England suburbia and of foreign travel.

“Personal Archaeology” considers life as a sequence of half-buried layers, and “The Full Glass” distills a lifetime’s happiness into one brimming moment of an old man’s bedtime routine. High-school class reunions, in “The Walk with Elizanne” and “The Road Home,” restore their hero to youth’s commonwealth where, as the narrator of the title story confides, “the self I value is stored, however infrequently I check on its condition.” Exotic locales encountered in the journeys of adulthood include Morocco, Florida, Spain, Italy, and India. The territory of childhood, with its fundamental, formative mysteries, is explored in “The Guardians,” “The Laughter of the Gods,” and “Kinderszenen.” Love’s fumblings among the bourgeoisie yield the tart comedy of “Free,” “Delicate Wives,” “The Apparition,” and “Outage.”

In sum, American experience from the Depression to the aftermath of 9/11 finds reflection in these glittering pieces of observation, remembrance, and imagination.
Rabbit Angstrom : The Four Novels : Rabbit, Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich, Rabbit at Rest
John UpdikeFour works in one volume
Seek My Face: A Novel
John UpdikeJohn Updike’s twentieth novel, like his first, The Poorhouse Fair, takes place in one day, a day that contains much conversation and some rain. The seventy-nine-year-old painter Hope Chafetz, who in the course of her eventful life has been Hope Ouderkirk, Hope McCoy, and Hope Holloway, answers questions put to her by a New York interviewer named Kathryn, and recapitulates, through stories from her career and many marriages, the triumphant, poignant saga of postwar American art. In the evolving relation between the two women, interviewer and subject move in and out of the roles of daughter and mother, therapist and patient, predator and prey, supplicant and idol. The scene is central Vermont; the time, the early spring of 2001.
Self-Consciousness: Memoirs
John UpdikeJohn Updike’s memoirs consist of six Emersonian essays that together trace the inner shape of the life, up to the age of fifty-five, of a relatively fortunate American male. The author has attempted, his foreword states, “to treat this life, this massive datum which happens to be mine, as a specimen life, representative in its odd uniqueness of all the oddly unique lives in this world.” In the service of this metaphysical effort, he has been hair-raisingly honest, matchlessly precise, and self-effacingly humorous. He takes the reader beyond self-consciousness, and beyond self-importance, into sheer wonder at the miracle of existence.
Still Looking: Essays on American Art
John UpdikeWhen, in 1989, a collection of John Updike’s writings on art appeared under the title Just Looking, a reviewer in the San Francisco Chronicle commented, “He refreshes for us the sense of prose opportunity that makes art a sustaining subject to people who write about it.” In the sixteen years since Just Looking was published, he has continued to serve as an art critic, mostly for The New York Review of Books, and from fifty or so articles has selected, for this richly illustrated book, eighteen that deal with American art.

After beginning with early American portraits, landscapes, and the transatlantic career of John Singleton Copley, Still Looking then considers the curious case of Martin Johnson Heade and extols two late-nineteenth-century masters, Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins. Next, it discusses the eccentric pre-moderns James McNeill Whistler and Albert Pinkham Ryder, the competing American Impressionists and Realists in the early twentieth century, and such now-historic avant-garde figures as Alfred Stieglitz, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, and Elie Nadelman. Two appreciations of Edward Hopper and appraisals of Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol round out the volume.

America speaks through its artists. As Updike states in his introduction, “The dots can be connected from Copley to Pollock: the same tense engagement with materials, the same demand for a morality of representation, can be discerned in both.”

On Just Looking

“Some of these essays are marvelous examples of critical explanation, in which the psychological concerns of the novelist drive the eye from work to work in an exhibition until a deep understanding of the art emerges.”
—Arthur Danto, The New York Times Book Review

“These are remarkably elegant little essays, dense in thought and perception but offhandedly casual in style. Their brevity makes more acute the sense of regret one feels to see them end.” —Jeremy Strick, Newsday
The Women Who Got Away
John Updike
The Complete Henry Bech
JOHN UPDIKESince tales of his exploits began appearing in The New Yorker more than thirty years ago, Henry Bech, John Updike's playfully irreverent alter-ego, has charmed readers with his aesthetic dithering and his seemingly inexhaustible libido. The Bech stories—collected in one volume for the first time, and featuring a final, series-capping story, "His Oeuvre"—cast an affectionate eye on the famously unproductive Jewish-American writer, offering up a stream of wit, whimsy, and lyric pungency unmatched in American letters.

From his birth in 1923 to his belated paternity and public apotheosis as a spry septuagenarian in 1999, Bech plugs away, globetrotting in the company of foreign dignitaries one day and schlepping in tattered tweeds on the college lecture circuit the next. By turns cynical and naïve, wry and avuncular, and always amorous, he is Updike’s most endearing confection—a Lothario, a curmudgeon, and a winsome literary icon all in one. A perfect forum for Updike's limber prose, The Complete Henry Bech is an arch portrait of the literary life in America from an incomparable American writer.
Gertrude and Claudius
JOHN UPDIKEBorrowing a phrase from Hamlet for the title of his 1999 nonfiction collection, John Updike may perhaps have been dropping hints about his fictional work in progress. He has, in any case, now delivered Gertrude and Claudius—and his variation on what is arguably the Bard's greatest hit sits very handsomely in the Shakespearean shadows. As its title suggests, this is a prelude to the actual play, focusing not on the sulky star but on his mother and fratricidal stepfather (think of it as a Danish, death-struck version of The Parent Trap). Updike's great achievement here is to turn our customary sympathies on their heads. This time around, Gertrude is a decent, long-suffering wife, whose consciousness happens to be raised to the boiling point by her sexy brother-in-law. And Claudius, too, seems half a victim of this fatal attraction, with a strong neo-Platonic accent to his lust:The amused play of her mouth and eyes, the casual music of her considerate voice, a glimpse of her bare feet and rosy morning languor were to him amorous nutrition enough: at this delicate stage the image of more would have revolted him.... What we love, he understood from the poetry of Provence, where his restless freelancing had more than once taken him, is less the gift bestowed, the moon-mottled nakedness and wet-socketed submission, than the Heavenly graciousness of bestowal. Subtract the poetry (and leave in the wet-socket business) and we're not too far from Rabbit Angstrom. As in the bulk of his fiction—and most conspicuously in the underrated In the Beauty of the Lilies—Updike sacrifices artistic firepower when he goes archaic on us. That explains why Gertrude and Claudius gets off to a wobbly start, with the author's medieval diction careening all over the page. But once his narrative gets up to speed, Updike dispenses one brilliant bit of perception after another. Note, for example, Ophelia's teeth, "given an almost infantile roundness by her low, palely pink gums, and tilted very slightly inward, so her smile imparted a glimmering impression of coyness, with even something light-heartedly wanton about it." Who else could make mere dentition such a window into the soul?

Gertrude and Claudius also amounts to a running theological argument, in which men constantly impale themselves on metaphysical principle while the adulterous queen is willing "to accept the world at face value, as a miracle daily renewed." (That would explain Gertrude's snap diagnosis of her neurotic son: "Too much German philosophy.") A superlative satellite to Shakespeare's creation, Updike's novel is likely to retain a kind of subordinate rank, even within his own capacious body of work. Still, it's packed with enough post-Elizabethan insight about men and women, parents and children, to suggest that the play's not the thing—not always, anyway. —James Marcus