Books

Selected Poems

John Updike

A post-humous, autobiographical collection of poetry from John Updike, one of the most celebrated American writers of the twentieth cenury and author of modern classic novel Rabbit, Run

Updike had a boundless capacity for curiosity and delight. This collection of poems from across his career displays his extraordinary range in form and subject: from metaphysical epigrams, and lyrical odes to blank-verse sonnets, on topics from Roman busts to Lucian Freud to postage stamps.

These poems are nimble and inventive, exploring art, science, popular culture, foreign travel, erotic love, growth, decay and rebirth. Collected in chronological order, from precocious undergraduate efforts to frequently anthologized classics, this is an autobiography in verse for every Updike fan and a celebration of twentieth century American life.

More Matter

John Updike

More Matter is a collection of John Updike's best-loved critical essays and reflections.

From the journals of John Cheever to the Queen of England, More Matter is a lively discussion on contemporary art, issues and people, told from the inimitable perspective of Pulitzer prizewinner John Updike. Wide ranging, incisive, witty and always superbly written, it has something to say about almost everyone - from Graham Greene to Bill Gates to Mickey Mouse - and everything - from sexual politics to spiritual matters to unopenable packages. It provides any number of intimate glimpses into how this remarkable mind works.

Praise for More Matter:

'Unlike most journalism, Updike's occasional writing is so exquisite as to repay multiple readings' Publishers Weekly

'More Matter attests to Mr. Updike's remarkable versatility and to his ardent drive to turn all his observations into glittering, gossamer prose. . . . In his strongest pieces, Mr. Updike's awesome pictorial powers of description combine with a rigorous, searching intelligence to produce essays of enormous tactile power and conviction' New York Times

'More Matter will leave even his closest followers amazed. . . . Updike can write about anything, in any form and at any length, and do it with intelligence and knowledge and grace and agility and wit-and oh, the prose' Pittsburgh Tribune Review

John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. His novels, stories, and nonfiction collections have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009.

Olinger Stories

John Updike

In an interview, Updike once said, "If I had to give anybody one book of me, it would be the Olinger Stories." These stories were originally published in The New Yorker and then in various collections before Vintage first put them together in one volume in 1964, as a paperback original. They follow the life of one character from the age of ten through manhood, in the small Pennsylvania town of Olinger (pronounced, according to Updike, with a long O and a hard G), which was loosely based on Updike's own hometown. "All the stories draw from the same autobiographical well," Updike explained, "the only child, the small town, the grandparental home, the move in adolescence to a farm." The selection was made and arranged by Updike himself, and was prefaced by a lovely 1,400-word essay by the author that has never been reprinted in full elsewhere until now.

Foreword

John Updike

John Updike's fictional antihero, Henry Bech, could not be more different from his creator. A self-confessed composite of Norman Mailer and J.D. Salinger, he cannot help but flatter himself. In this 'foreword' Updike presents us with a conceited and satirical manifestation of what it means to be an American and a writer.

Higher Gossip

John Updike

Higher Gossip presents John Updike's last collection of essays, poems and short stories.

'Gossip of a higher sort' was how the incomparable John Updike described the art of the review. Here then is the last collection of his best, most dazzling gossip. Influential reviews of Toni Morrison, John le Carré and Ann Patchett and expert critique on exhibitions of El Greco, Van Gogh and Schiele are included alongside previously uncollected short stories, poems and essays on his 'pet topics'.

Following earlier prose collections More Matter and Due Considerations, Updike began compiling Higher Gossip shortly before his death in 2009. Displaying his characteristic humour and insight on subjects as varied as ageing, golf, dinosaurs, make-up and his own fiction, the delightful Higher Gossip bookends a legacy of over fifty celebrated titles.

Praise for Higher Gossip:

'All illuminating cross-section of his whole career. It will be required reading for Updike's many fans, but it also serves as an excellent pick'n'mix introduction to his omnivorous intellectual range' Daily Telegraph

'Measured, erudite, and humorous writings' Boston Globe

'Updike was that rare creature: an all-around man of letters, a literary decathlete who brought to his criticism an insider's understanding of craft and technique; a first-class appreciator of talent . . . an ebullient observer [with] a contagious, boyish sense of wonder' Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. His novels, stories, and nonfiction collections have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009.

Christopher Carduff, the editor of this volume, is a member of the staff of The Library of America.

Basic Bech

John Updike

Basic Bech combines two classic titles -- Bech: A Book and Bech is Back -- from one of John Updike's most beloved characters.

Henry Bech, the celebrated author of Travel Light, has been scrutinized, canonized and vilified by reviewers, academics, critics and readers across the world. Suffering from temporary impotence and not-so-temporary writer's block, Bech finds renewed fame when he returns to his native America and Think Big, his all-time blockbuster, hits the shops . . .

In these classic novels by John Updike, we return to a character as compelling and timeless as Rabbit Angstrom: the inimitable Henry Bech. Famous for his writer's block, Bech is a Jew adrift in a world of Gentiles. As he roams from one adventure to the next, he views life with a blend of wonder and cynicism that will make you laugh with delight and wince in recognition.

Praise for John Updike:

'Our time's greatest man of letters - as brilliant a literary critic and essayist as he was a novelist and short-story writer. His death constitutes a loss to our literature that is immeasurable' Philip Roth

'Alert, funny, sensuous. Here is a writer who can do more or less as he likes' Martin Amis

'One of the most protean of American writers . . . For a writer whose prose can be so lush and hyper-charged, he has always been in contact with the material detritus of everyday life' The Times

'He was the ideal son of a platonic union between John Cheever and J.D. Salinger, with Nabokov attending the christening as fairy godfather' James Wood

John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. His novels, stories, and nonfiction collections have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009.

Always Looking

John Updike (and others)

Following on from the acclaimed Just Looking and Still Looking, Always Looking is an insightful collection of art criticism and a masterclass in appreciating art - from the great American man of letters, John Updike.

Always Looking treats readers to a series of elegant and sensitive essays on art, and includes writing on a comprehensive array of subjects, both American and European. In 'The Clarity of Things', Updike looks closely at Copley, Homer, Abstract Expressionism, and Pop, in order to explore what is 'American' in American art. From here he moves to masterpieces of American and European art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries -- from the sublime landscapes of Frederic Church and the series paintings of Monet and Degas, to the verbal-visual puzzles of Magritte and the steely sculptural environments of Richard Serra.

With more than two-hundred full-colour reproductions, Always Looking is an invitation to see the world afresh through the eyes of John Updike, a matchless connoisseur.

'Our time's greatest man of letters - as brilliant a literary critic and essayist as he was a novelist and short-story writer. His death constitutes a loss to our literature that is immeasurable'Philip Roth

'He was a modern master, a colossal figure in American letters, the finest writer working in English. He dazzled us with his interests and intellectual curiosity, and he turned a beautiful sentence' Ian McEwan

'Updike was that rare creature: an all-around man of letters, a literary decathlete who brought to his criticism an insider's understanding of craft and technique; a first-class appreciator of talent, capable of describing other artists' work with nimble, pictorial brilliance; an ebullient observer, who could bring to essays about dinosaurs or golf or even the theory of relativity a contagious, boyish sense of wonder' Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. His novels, stories, and nonfiction collections have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009.

Christopher Carduff, the editor of this volume, is a member of the staff of The Library of America. He is also the editor of Higher Gossip, a collection of John Updike's essays and criticism.

Golf Dreams

John Updike

'Golf appeals to the idiot in us and the child. Just how childlike golf players become is proven by their frequent inability to count past five.'

As an earnest golfer for over forty years, John Updike wrote frequently about the game. In Golf Dreams, Updike directs his inimitable style, his humour and shrewd insights towards a sport that, in turns, enthralled and infuriated him. This gathering of his pieces covers everything from the peculiar charms of bad golf and the satisfactions of an essentially losing struggle to the camaraderie of good golf and its own attendant perils.

Praise for Golf Dreams:

'John Updike has anatomized the greatness of golf with an eloquence only Wodehouse, in a lighter vein, has matched. It makes for a lyrical book which is also thought-provoking . . . his lowest handicap was 18, but, in this delightful book, he has not dropped a stroke' Max Davidson, Daily Telegraph

'A stylish celebration of golf's propensity to transmogrify perfectly normal people into gibbering wrecks; not just 28-handicap novices but superstars, too' Jeff Randall, Sunday Times

'There's a crafty pastiche of golf coaching manuals . . . and there's a delicious rumination on the dazzling green luxury of televised golf. There are high, arching flights of fancy concerning swing thoughts, the moral aspects of golf, the etiquette of the gimme . . . It is a treat both for Updike fans and for golf nuts' Robert Winder, Independent on Sunday



John Updike's first novel, The Poorhouse Fair, was published in 1959. Other novels by Updike include, Marry Me, The Witches of Eastwick, the Rabbit series and Villages. He has also written a number of volumes of short stories such as My Father's Tears and Other Stories and a poetry collection entitled Endpoint and Other Poems. His criticism, essays and other non fiction appeared in magazines such as The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. He died in January 2009.

Licks of Love

John Updike

Collected with a dozen wonderful stories, all set in classic Updike territory, the short novel 'RABBIT REMEMBERED' is a major work in its own right - a riveting return to Updike's most celebrated fictional world. Janice and Nelson Angstrom, plus several other survivors of the irreducible Rabbit, fitfully entertain his memory while pursuing their own happiness over the edge of the millennium, as a number of old strands come together in entirely unexpected ways.

Rich in Russia

John Updike

'There, in Russia five years ago, when Cuba had been taken out of the oven to cool and Vietnam was still coming to a simmer, Bech did find a quality of life - impoverished yet ceremonial, shabby yet ornate, sentimental, embattled, and avuncular-reminiscent of his neglected Jewish past.'

In these two short stories, Updike's brilliant observational acuity is matched by a light, comic touch. The writer Henry Bech travels to Europe on a hapless cultural exchange, first to Russia, where he struggles to spend his money when everything - from his meals to his bugged hotel room - is already paid for, and then to Rumania.

This book includes Rich In Russia, Foreword, Bech in Rumania, Appendix A and Appendix B.

My Father's Tears and Other Stories

John Updike

John Updike was a master storyteller, and this collection, from his final years, reveals that up to the end he remained the finest short-story writer of his generation.

'Magnificent, exhilarating, crisply evocative, rippling with irony. Updike's genius can be seen on peak form. With this book, a talent that burnt brightly goes out in a blaze of brilliance' Sunday Times

'A haunting valedictory alive with characteristic preoccupations: small-town life; "domestic duplicity"; travel; aging rituals; and the transience of existence. This is a collection filled with nuanced observations, descriptive flair and sentences that stop you in your tracks' Metro

Endpoint and Other Poems

John Updike

John Updike was always as much a poet as a storyteller and the poems in this, his final collection, celebrate the everyday, even as they address his own imminent mortality. It is in the connected series of poems, Endpoint, written on his last few birthdays and culminating with the illness that killed him, that Updike's work is at its most touching and poignant.

The Widows of Eastwick

John Updike

When the three witches - now old, remarried and widowed - decide to go back to Eastwick to spend a summer together, many things have changed. Darryl Van Horne is gone. Their husbands and lovers have gone. The lithe and supple bodies with which they wrecked marriages and wreaked havoc many years before have gone - and have been replaced with the quiet aches and encumbrances of age. But a chemistry still crackles between the three and magic still lingers in the Eastwick air, and soon it becomes clear that there are those around them who remember them, and wish them ill.

The Widows of Eastwick takes the mischief and enchantment of The Witches of Eastwick and reshapes it in a new emotional landscape, resulting in a sensitive study of the passing of youth and a darkly funny novel that shines with luminous sexual reminiscences and satirical observations about modern America.

The Maples Stories

John Updike

In 1956 John Updike wrote a short story about newly-weds Joan and Richard Maple. Over the next two decades he returned to this couple again and again, tracking their years together as they raise children and deal with the heartbreak of infidelity and estrangement. Gathered here for the first time in hardcover - and with the addition of a later story, 'Grandparenting', that shows us the Maples after their divorce - THE MAPLES STORIES offers a nuanced portrait of two deeply flawed but moving characters and their entwined lives.

'Though the Maples stories trace the decline and fall of a marriage, they also illumine a history in many ways happy, of growing children and a million mundane moments shared. That a marriage ends is less than ideal; but all things end under heaven, and if temporality is held to be invalidating, then nothing really succeeds. The moral of these stories is that all blessings are mixed.'
- From the Foreword by John Updike

Due Considerations

John Updike

This collection of John Updike’s non-fiction writings includes a delightful preface, ‘Everything Considered’, in which he tells of his lifelong love affair with words; essays on travel, and on faith; introductions to some of the classics; reviews of lesser known foreign writers and new books by English and American contemporaries; as well as non-fiction topics from the sinking of the Lusitania to Coco Chanel's ‘unsinkable career’; tributes to legendary New Yorker figures, and much more.

A cruise through the cultural waters of the past decade with as delightful, witty, sensitive and articulate a guide as you could hope for, Due Considerations is a voyage not to be missed.

Marry Me

John Updike

Sally is big, blonde and pampered. She’s married to Richard. But she loves Jerry. Jerry loves Sally in return, but he’s also still in love with his wife Ruth. Who’s been sleeping with Richard … As a hot, feverish summer of snatched weekends, secret phone calls and illicit lovemaking on the beach comes to a head, it turns out everyone knows more than they’ve been letting on. And that no one knows quite when to stop.

Of the Farm

John Updike

Of the Farm recounts Joey Robinson's visit to the farm where he grew up and where his mother now lives alone. Accompanied by his newly acquired second wife, Peggy, and an eleven-year-old stepson, Joey spends three days reassessing and evaluating the course his life has run. But for Joey and Peggy, the delicate balance of love and sex is threatened by a dangerous new awareness.

The Centaur

John Updike

In a small Pennsylvania town in the late 1940s, schoolteacher George Caldwell yearns to find some meaning in his life. Alone with his teenage son for three days in a blizzard, Caldwell sees his son grow and change as he himself begins to lost touch with his life. Interwoven with the myth of Chiron, the noblest centaur, and his own relationship to Prometheus, The Centaur is one of John Updike's most brilliant and unusual novels.

The Women Who Got Away

John Updike

In the small town of Pierce Junction adultery is the popular pastime and pillow talk the common currency. Martin knows the women he hasn’t yet seduced hold his attention for the longest, and Winifred, married to his own wife’s lover, stirs him in ways he never expects.

United by the theme of love, the writings in the Great Loves series span over two thousand years and vastly different worlds. Readers will be introduced to love’s endlessly fascinating possibilities and extremities: romantic love, platonic love, erotic love, gay love, virginal love, adulterous love, parental love, filial love, nostalgic love, unrequited love, illicit love, not to mention lost love, twisted and obsessional love…

Terrorist

John Updike

In his extraordinary and highly charged new novel, John Updike tackles one of America's most burning issues – the threat of Islamist terror from within. Set in contemporary New Jersey, Terrorist traces the journey of one young man, from radicalism to fundamentalism to terrorism, against the backdrop of a fraying urban landscape and an increasingly fragmented community. In beautiful prose, Updike dramatizes the logic of the fundamentalist terrorist – but also suggests ways in which we can counter it, in our words and our actions . . .

Biography

John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He is the author of over fifty books, including The Poorhouse Fair; the Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest); Marry Me; The Witches of Eastwick, which was made into a major feature film; Memories of the Ford Administration; Brazil; In the Beauty of the Lilies; Toward the End of Time; Gertrude and Claudius; and Seek My Face. He has written a number of collections of short stories, including The Afterlife and Other Stories and Licks of Love, which includes a final Rabbit story, Rabbit Remembered. His essays and criticism first appeared in publications such as the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, and are now collected into numerous volumes. Collected Poems 1953-1993 brings together almost all of his verse, and a new edition of his Selected Poems is forthcoming from Hamish Hamilton.

His novels, stories, and non-fiction collections have won have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award and the Howells Medal.

Updike graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year at Oxford's Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of staff at the New Yorker, and he lived in Massachusetts from 1957 until his death in January 2009.