January 29, 2012 |
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 |
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 |
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 |
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 |
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 |
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.