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More Matter: Essays and Criticismby John Updike
Synopses & Reviews
John Updike's fiftieth book and fifth collection of assorted prose, most of it first published in The New Yorker, brings together eight years' worth of essays, criticism, addresses, introductions, humorous feuilletons, and — in a concluding section, Personal Matters — paragraphs on himself and his work. More matter, indeed, in an age which, his introduction states, wantsreal stuff — the dirt, the poop, the nitty gritty — and not . . . the obliquities and tenuosities of fiction.
Still, the fiction writer's affectionate, shaping hand can be detectedin many of these considerations. Herman Melville, Edith Wharton, Sinclair Lewis, Dawn Powell, Henry Green, John Cheever, Vladimir Nabokov, and W. M. Spackman are among the authors extensively treated, along with such moregeneral literary matters as the nature of evil, the philosophical content of novels, and the wreck of the Titanic. Biographies of Isaac Newton and Queen Elizabeth II, Abraham Lincoln and Nathaniel Hawthorne, RobertBenchley and Helen Keller, are reviewed, always with a lively empathy. Two especially scholarly disquisitions array twentieth-century writing about New York City and sketch the ancient linkage between religion andliterature. An illustrated section contains sharp-eyed impressions of movies, photographs, and art. Even the slightest of these pieces can twinkle.
Updike is a writer for whom print is a mode ofhappiness: he says of his younger self, The magazine rack at the corner drugstore beguiled me with its tough gloss, and goes on to claim, An invitation into print, from however suspect asource, is an opportunity to make something beautiful, to discover within oneself a treasure that would otherwise have remained buried.
From the Hardcover edition.
In his fiftieth book and fifth collection of prose, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist presents a rich range of essays, criticism, humorous observations, and introductions, as he shares his thoughts on religion and literature, twentieth-century New York writing, and his own life and work. Reprint.
Celebrated as one of America's great prose stylists, John Updike astonishes us here with the range of subjects he considers. Shrewdly admiring essays on American past masters such as Edith Wharton, Herman Melville, Edmund Wilson, and Dawn Powell take their place beside penetrating assessments of contemporary peers and rivals--John Cheever, Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, and Martin Amis. Here too are brilliantly original essays on religion and literature, lust and dancing, as well as a revealing selection of pieces about himself and his work. Whether he's writing about photography or film, golf or adultery, Bill Clinton's hair or the sinking of the Titanic, Updike never fails to dazzle or surprise. Generous, learned, and wickedly funny, More Matter is a triumph of style and substance.
About the Author
John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker, and since 1957 has lived in Massachusetts. He is the father of four children and the author of fifty books, including collections of short stories, poems, essays, and criticism. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize (twice), the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells Medal. A previous collection of essays, Hugging the Shore, received the 1983 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Freedom and equality: two American bluebirds — The state of the union, as of March 1992 — Letter to a baby boomer — The fifties — The disposable rocket — Women dancing — Get thee behind me, suntan — V — Lust — The song of Solomon — Religion and literature — Fiction: a dialogue — Print: a dialogue — A different ending — On the edge — People wrapped to go — One big bauble — The twelve terrors of Christmas — That syncing feeling — Paranoid packaging — Hostile haircuts — Glad rags — Addressing the scandal glut — Manifesto — Car talk — The gentlemen of summer — Bodies beautiful — Golf in the land of the free — The vineyard remembered — The sun the other way around — The cold — Introduction to "The seducer's diary," a chapter of Either/or — Introduction to The complete shorter fiction of Herman Melville — Introduction to The age of innocence, by Edith Wharton — Introduction to Surviving: the uncollected writings of Henry Green — Introduction to The best American short stories 1984 — Introduction to Writers at work: the Paris review interviews, edited by George Plimpton — Introduction to Writers on writers, compiled by Graham Tarrant — Introduction to Heroes and anti-heroes, photographs by the Magnum Co
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