As well as reading my first Amazon Kindle Single ready for review next week, I’ve also been reading John Updike’s short story collection, The Maples Stories. The juxtaposition between the bestselling Kindle Single and Updike’s stylistic prowess is dramatic indeed. It’s led me to return to a few articles on Updike that I’ve enjoyed over the last few years. I thought I’d share some of them with you.
- Updike’s 1968 Paris Review interview – it reads like an extension of one of his more cerebral novels. A sheer joy.
- A short, insightful piece on Updike’s theology by Ben Myers over at Faith and Theology.
- James Wood’s fairly critical appraisal of Updike’s later work. (Worth it for lines such as these alone: “If Updike’s earlier work was consumed with wife-swapping, his late work is consumed by nostalgia for it.”)
- A lovely audio-photo montage interview with Updike from 1984 (not overly informative, but enjoyable nonetheless).
The more Updike I read, the more I start asking myself the question: Updike or Bellow? All such questions are basically meaningless (except – perhaps – that oldest of chestnuts: Tolstoy or Dostoevsky?), but I begin to sense a certain reluctance in myself to cede to the inevitable preference for Bellow. There’s a great sympathy for mediocrity in Updike that, whilst present in Bellow (or in what I’ve read of him), seems somehow more attuned to habitual failure than his more esteemed counterpart.