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John Updike

January 28, 2009 | Mary Rourke, Rourke is a former Times staff writer.
John Updike, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction whose novels and short stories exposed an undercurrent of ambivalence and disappointment in small-town, middle-class America, died Tuesday. He was 76. Updike's death from lung cancer was announced by Nicholas Latimer of Alfred A. Knopf, his publisher. Updike lived in Beverly Farms, Mass., but the announcement did not indicate where he died.
April 13, 2014 | By Soumya Karlamangla
Fiction writers discussed what it means to write novels about characters and cultures with specific ethnic identities, while also debating who is able to tell those stories, in a panel called "Fiction: Writing Culture and Character" at the Festival of Books on Sunday.  Rebecca Walker has written several memoirs, including "Black, White and Jewish," but wrote her first novel last year, about an American who goes to to Africa. Walker said she paid attention to, and made sure not to fall into, the tropes of the noble savage and the privileged American in telling a story that was both "true and subversive.
July 22, 1990 | CHARLES SOLOMON
John Updike evokes Proust's "dizzying stilts of time" in this combination memoir and apologia. A walk in the rain through Shillington, Pa., the town where he lived as a child, develops into a Proustian meditation: The author seems to straddle past and present as he revisits his old neighborhood, pausing at a familiar address to note what exists there now and recalling what used to be.
August 16, 2013 | By James Marcus
Back in 2000, when John Updike assembled "The Best American Short Stories of the Century," he included "Death of a Favorite," by J.F. Powers. Interviewing Updike at the time, I mentioned how pleased I was to see Powers in the collection. "He was once, you might know, a fixture at the New Yorker," Updike replied. "Now Powers is almost totally forgotten, but I thought he deserved a place. " He did, he does. Yet James Farl Powers has always been a hard sell for the American reading public, despite a cadre of distinguished fans (Robert Lowell, Evelyn Waugh, Katherine Anne Porter)
September 14, 1986 | RICHARD EDER
Like Byron and Hemingway, John Updike stands not just for himself but for a generation. It is the generation of the Fifties; the time of small causes, good taste, individual salvation through personal relationships and, for seasoning, a tablespoon of Kierkegaard poured over a pudding-like stability and set ablaze.
June 5, 2006 | Matthew Price, Special to The Times
Terrorist A Novel John Updike Alfred A. Knopf: 320 pp., $24.95 * THOUGH he has published six books since 2000, John Updike, it seems, really wants our attention. "Terrorist." You knew, sooner or later, he was going to get around to this -- shocks to the American system are an Updike specialty (see, among others, "Rabbit Is Rich" or "In the Beauty of the Lilies"). Now he has tackled the mother of all shocks head-on: the 9/11 era, Muslim rage, the whole megillah. Five years on from Sept.
Rabbit is dead, but John Updike swears it was a mercy killing. After all, if a famous literary character wants to load up on junk food, laugh off a heart attack and then die heavily in debt, who can stop him? "I don't like killing off characters, because I'm not very good at saying goodby," Updike says with a chuckle. "But Rabbit had to go, as much as I loved him. His time was up. He was tired of everything, getting weary of sex and living in general."
February 6, 1994 | RICHARD EDER
In the tropical sun on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana "the beach felt blinding." Down from the hillside slums, Tristao and his half-brother Euclides are on their daily scavenge for purses and other opportunities. The two black youths spot the well-born Isabel, blond and fair-skinned, in her pale bikini. "This dolly, I think she was made for me," Tristao exclaims.
January 4, 1987 | KATHERINE STEPHEN, Stephen lives in London
John Updike's strikingly majestic New England home looks out onto the distant Atlantic from the top of a hill, elevating him above his neighbors on the outskirts of this rich and wooded village north of Boston. The house--square, solid, imposing--is painted an intense, almost Melvillean white. "My God, it's awfully white," Updike said, casting an eye toward the paint work from his seat on a wicker sofa in the shade of a side porch. "On a sunny day, it's almost blinding."
July 31, 1988 | ELENA BRUNET
John Updike is one of our best novelists, but his skills may be even better suited to the short story. In this masterful new collection, he is at the height of his powers, writing of men and women in middle age, of divorce and remarriage and, in an extraordinary story called "The Lovely Troubled Daughters of Our Old Crowd," of the decline, if not failure, of an entire way of life.
January 29, 2012 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
Higher Gossip John Updike Alfred A. Knopf: 502 pp., $40 Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts William H. Gass Alfred A. Knopf: 350 pp., $28.95 Partway through "Higher Gossip," the seventh and final collection of reviews and occasional pieces by the late John Updike, I began to understand the problem I've always had with the author's work. It's pleasant enough - congenial, intelligent, fluidly written - but only rarely is it great. As to why this is, "Higher Gossip" offers an unintended answer by revealing not so much the range of Updike's interests as the chatty conventionality of his ideas.
October 18, 2011 | Chris Erskine
Be it said that the people who love good baseball are also drawn to good writing, though the cruciferous goons you encounter in the bleachers each summer do their best to convince us otherwise. Yet, I think there are commonalities between the two, baseball and writing: wisdom, surprise, resonance, wit. I lack many of them, but as with the Supreme Court and pornography, I know it when I download it. Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities.
February 28, 2010 | By Richard Rayner
Alan Sillitoe, now in his 80s, grew up in Nottingham, in the English midlands, in the kind of squalor and poverty that, a century earlier, gave Charles Dickens nightmares. Sillitoe's father was a violent drunk; his mother, on occasion, was forced to prostitute herself. The family, constantly fighting to stay one step ahead of debt and rent collectors, was often on the move, dodging from one squalid tenement to the next, wheeling their belongings in a hand-cart. An abiding memory of his childhood, Sillitoe has written, was of his father raising his fist and his mother pleading: "Not in the face."
November 10, 2009 | Joe Flint
ABC has decided not to order any additional episodes of its new Wednesday night drama "The Witches of Eastwick," which is about as close as a network gets to saying they're canceling a show these days. Although much of ABC's Wednesday night has been a pleasant surprise with "The Middle," "Modern Family" and "Cougar Town" getting full-season pickups, "The Witches of Eastwick" has been pulling in Jay Leno-like numbers at 10 p.m., often averaging fewer than 5 million viewers. The show, which stars Rebecca Romijn and Lindsay Price, is based on the John Updike book.
September 20, 2009 | Scott Timberg
It started out as a dark satire of the late '60s and its shifting morality, then became a big-haired '80s horror-show dominated by special effects and Jack Nicholson's eyebrows. And now, it's on its way to entering the world again as an easygoing television show, set in the first decade of the 21st century, about women's friendship and aimed at the "Desperate Housewives" crowd. (It's even shot in the old town square from "Gilmore Girls.") That's a pretty rich afterlife for a novel considered somewhere between an anomaly for its author and a misogynist classic.
June 7, 2009 | John Freeman, Freeman is acting editor of Granta magazine.
My Father's Tears And Other Stories John Updike Alfred A. Knopf: 292 pp., $25.95 Endpoint And Other Poems John Updike Alfred A. Knopf: 98 pp., $25 -- Of course he was going to write until the end. Several million words, 60-plus books. No American of the last century -- or ever -- has committed himself or herself quite as John Updike did to turning experience into prose.
February 17, 2009 | Scott Timberg
In an often-overlooked 1992 novel with perhaps the most intentionally dull title in literary history -- "Memories of the Ford Administration" -- John Updike has fun with an issue that long deviled his career. He introduces a character named Brent Mueller, a "rapid-speaking fellow with the clammy white skin of the library bound" who had "deconstructed Chaucer right down to the ground." Mueller serves as antagonist to the novel's narrator -- both are professors at a New Hampshire college -- and becomes a campus cult figure by deeming every masterpiece "a relic of centuries of white male oppression, to be touched as gingerly as radioactive garbage."
February 15, 2009 | Diana Wagman, Wagman, a Cal State Long Beach professor, is the author of the novels "Skin Deep," "Spontaneous" and "Bump."
The Japanese have a fiction genre called "business novels." Like American noir, which reflects our particular tradition of one man against all odds, independent and alone, the Japanese business novel is rooted in their background of amae, translated as "indulgent dependency." The business novel is about one's sacrifice of self for the good of the company, the ability to bow to industrial development. Insights and intrigue about a company's inner workings as well as the psychologies of businessmen and women make these very popular in Japan.
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