• -
  • irishtimes.com - Posted: January 30, 2009 @ 11:43 am

    Catching Updike

    Fiona McCann

    The death of John Updike this week has been a sore reminder of the deficit in my book bank. Embarrassing as it is for me to admit this, I have never read John Updike. Not one single book in all my book-reading days. How’s that for a professed bookworm? In my defence, I do have a John Updike book on my shelf, where it has remained for many years now, sulking in neglect, unthumbed under dust. I guess now’s the time to make amends, but before I do so, I might as well seek the advice of those who have gone before. So Updike readers and fans, I call on you to tell me, if I’m going to start this catch-up on Updike, where should I begin?

    • Kevin Stevens says:

      My top 5 Updike:
      Rabbit Is Rich
      Couples
      Pigeon Feathers
      Bech at Bay
      in the Beauty of the Lilies

      Bonus Book: Witches of Eastwick

    • ShaneB says:

      Probably Couples, before deciding to tackle the Rabbit books. (But at the risk of muddying the waters, it seems female readers–including the one I live with!–tend to be left cold by Updike.)

      An idea of what writing three pages a day can add up to after 50 years:

      http://www.harmlessfraud.com/?p=258

    • John says:

      I wouldn’t forget his short stories!! Surely as good an introduction as any. The Early Stories: 1953-1975, the collection I have myself, is excellent. He’d be up there for me with William Trevor.

    • Steve K says:

      Have only ever read Rabbit, Run which I found upsetting in how directly it reflects the careless side of many modern men, including myself.

      Despite it being a great book it put me off reading any more Updike. I was in a bad mood for about a week afterwards.

    • Fiona says:

      Thanks for all the recommendations. I’ve never been particularly attracted to Updike, maybe because of what you mentioned, Steve K, about the careless side of modern men. Still, I think it’s time I gave him a go, if only so I can decide not to read more, if that’s the case. Might go for Couples first, as Kevin Stevens and Shane B suggest, though John, I take on board your point about the short stories. I’ll keep yiz posted.


Search Pursued by a Bear