Synopses & Reviews
In this collection of nonfiction pieces, John Updike gathers his responses to nearly two hundred invitations into print, each “an opportunity to make something beautiful, to find within oneself a treasure that would otherwise remain buried.” Introductions, reviews, and humorous essays, paragraphs on New York, religion, and lust—here is “more matter” commissioned by an age that, as the author remarks in his Preface, calls for “real stuff . . . not for the obliquities and tenuosities of fiction.” Still, the novelist’s shaping hand, his gift for telling detail, can be detected in many of these literary considerations. Books by Edith Wharton, Dawn Powell, John Cheever, and Vladimir Nabokov are incisively treated, as are biographies of Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Queen Elizabeth II, and Helen Keller. As George Steiner observed, Updike writes with a “solicitous, almost tender intelligence. The critic and the poet in him . . . are at no odds with the novelist; the same sharpness of apprehension bears on the object in each of Updike’s modes.”
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.