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Any John Updike Fans Out There?

Somehow I made it through my English degree, and most of my adult reading life, without reading anything by John Updike. I’d hear his name spoken in hallowed and scornful tones, everywhere that readers gathered, and still I just never got around to reading anything by him.

Last week I read Rabbit, Run and In The Beauty of the Lilies. I loved Lilies and thought Rabbit was obnoxious in too many ways to count.

The man wrote a ton of books. Before I jump into another one, I’d love to know if any of you can recommend a good starting point. Any you’ve loved by Updike, or that you would recommend avoiding?


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  • Chris Beardsley May 23, 2012, 10:28 am

    Memories of the Ford Administration is probably one of his more accessible books and one of my favourite novels. However, some people find it distasteful because of the Roth-esque obsessing about sex.

    • Josh Hanagarne May 23, 2012, 10:32 am

      Chris, how many of his books do you think you’ve read? Are you also a fan of Roth?

  • Michael Golrick May 23, 2012, 10:41 am

    I have read all the Rabbit books, and kind of enjoyed them. Of course, I am considered middle-aged.

    I read several before I had to introduce him as a conference speaker. [Now talk about nervous!] He was available partly to promote his then new book Gertrude and Claudius which tells the Hamlet pre-story. It is pretty good.

    I also read the “Bech” books/stories, which are not bad.

    As an author/personality, he was a very nice person. He made very few requests/demands, and was very unassuming in person. I very much enjoyed the very brief time I had meeting him.

    • Josh Hanagarne May 23, 2012, 10:48 am

      I’m glad to hear that he was low key in person. When we bring authors and speakers into the library, I’m always surprised when someone says “I couldn’t believe how nice he/she was!” in a surprised voice. Entitled divas make me sick.

      Where were you introducing him? I mean, what was the conference?

      Also, I’m going to read the rest of the Rabbit series. I want to see the progression of the character. I’m really hoping that he can’t become more unlikable.

      • Betsy May 25, 2012, 11:38 am

        He can and he does.

  • ceejay bear May 24, 2012, 3:27 pm

    I’ve read all of the Rabbit books. What a blast from the mid-century past. Read Pigeon Feathers and other stories to get a feel for his sense of humor and personal depth. He was a man who did not take himself too seriously and truly enjoyed life.

  • mole May 24, 2012, 6:37 pm

    If you enjoy poetry, you might want to sample his Collected Poems which contains some gems.