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John Updike

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Thanks for that link, Alan. Fascinating. I'm tempted to paste the longer piece here, but I defer to you on the legalities/etiquette of such postings, certain that you know more about these things and would've pasted the article if appropriate.

I encourage everyone to follow the link. If, like me, you've read some Updike and been intrigued about his "brand" of Christianity, the information at the PBS site should be illuminating.

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I'm not well-read in Updike, but of the few of his titles that I have read, I'm partial to In the Beauty of the Lilies, which combines my two great passions -- Christianity and film -- into a narrative spanning much of the 20th Century. I didn't see the depiction of loss of faith early in the novel as an endorsement of that view, but as an early picture of mainline deterioration. If memory serves, the book shows how religion, along with film, degraded over the decades.

Edited by Christian

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So ... which of Updike's have we read? Which book or story is the best "gateway"? Which stands out? Roger's Vision is mentioned in the link above...

I read the omnibus edition of the first three Rabbit books a few weekends back. They are rather explicit in parts but I can't imagine a better dose of Updike.

It is the site of an encounter, in silence, of two minds, one following in the other's steps but invited to imagine, to argue, to concur on a level of reflection beyond that of personal encounter, with all its merely social conventions, its merciful padding of blather and mutual forgiveness.

Updike has always been famous for his love of Barth, and now I see why.

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So ... which of Updike's have we read? Which book or story is the best "gateway"? Which stands out? Roger's Vision is mentioned in the link above...

I've read just about everything Updike has written. And I like just about everything Updike has written.

I'd start with the quartet of Rabbit novels (Rabbit, Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich, Rabbit at Rest). Updike wrote each of these books at the close of a decade (the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s, respectively). As such, they serve as his social commentary on the decade just passed, and on the current State of the American Union. I think it's safe to say that Updike is not optimistic about the direction in which America is heading.

And Rabbit is such a rich character. He's the embodiment of all the contradictions inherent in the stereotypic American male -- narcisistic, driven by sex, sloppily sentimental, and yet at times remarkably warm and caring. He's my father. He could be me. Seldom have I read a series of books that seem to capture so accurately the conundrum of the emasculated male who nevertheless has two heads, and who is always driven by the wrong one. And his use of language is breathtaking. He's just a superb writer.

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Updike is my favorite American author and I have read just about all his novels, although I can

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I’m about 2/3 of the way through Rabbit, Run and...it’s really insufferable. Not just the characters (I’m all about unlikable characters); the prose is hardly remarkable and the stabs at transcendence are thin at best. As a commentary on gender and the fading Midcentury American Dream, I’ll take Psycho (published 1959) or Myra Breckinridge (1969) over this bland concoction.  

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Finished it. What a dreary novel. The last fifty pages nearly redeem it--I admit, I had tears in my eyes, though how much of that was because something in it triggered memories of my mother's funeral is more than I can say--but on the whole this book is hardly worth the effort.

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