John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania, and died in January 2009. 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 after 1957 lived in Massachusetts until his death. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells Medal.
Updike compresses the strata of a life in his delicately rendered, tremendously moving posthumous collection. In "Free," the memory of a life-affirming affair buckles against a man's loyalty to his deceased wife: he recognizes that becoming a "well-bred stick" offers more consolation in old age than the sluggish arousal of his sensuality. In "The Accelerating Expansion of the Universe," the retired protagonist, depressed by what he perceives as the universe's indifference to human affairs, is done in by the accumulated detritus of his life. Many characters are haunted by a sense of isolation, such as the protagonist of "Personal Archaeology," who roams his Massachusetts estate, searching for traces of previous ownership while sifting through his own petty contribution, or the emotionally stranded absentee landlord of an Alton, Pa., family farm in "The Road Home," who returns after 50 years and finds himself lost in his hometown. From "Kinderszenen," which depicts the anxious time of smalltown late 1930s, to "Varieties of Religious Experience," in which a grandfather watches the twin towers fall, time ushers in brutal changes. With masterly assurance, Updike transforms the familiar into the mysterious. (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
'Updike remains a literary phenomenon ... no contemporary prose writer handles language as beautifully' Irish Times 'Updike is the master' - Sunday Telegraph 'The earth becomes heavenly when Updike writes about it' Observer
Updike passed away in 2009, and his final collection of short fiction-beautifully and precisely crafted stories of the American experience-is a lovely farewell gift to be enjoyed by his many fans and those new to the iconic writer. (LJ 11/1/09) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.