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<p><em>Updike</em> is Adam Begley’s masterful, much-anticipated biography of one of the most celebrated figures in American literature: Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Updike—a candid, intimate, and richly detailed look at his life and work.</p><p>In this magisterial biography, Adam Begley offers an illuminating portrait of John Updike, the acclaimed novelist, poet, short-story writer, and critic who saw himself as a literary spy in small-town and suburban America, who dedicated himself to the task of transcribing “middleness with all its grits, bumps and anonymities.”</p><p><em>Updike</em> explores the stages of the writer’s pilgrim’s progress: his beloved home turf of Berks County, Pennsylvania; his escape to Harvard; his brief, busy working life as the golden boy at <em>The New Yorker</em>; his family years in suburban Ipswich, Massachusetts; his extensive travel abroad; and his retreat to another Massachusetts town, Beverly Farms, where he remained until his death in 2009. Drawing from in-depth research as well as interviews with the writer’s colleagues, friends, and family, Begley explores how Updike’s fiction was shaped by his tumultuous personal life—including his enduring religious faith, his two marriages, and his first-hand experience of the “adulterous society” he was credited with exposing in the bestselling <em>Couples</em>.</p><p>With a sharp critical sensibility that lends depth and originality to his analysis, Begley probes Updike’s best-loved works—from <em>Pigeon Feathers</em> to <em>The Witches of Eastwick</em> to the <em>Rabbit</em> tetralogy—and reveals a surprising and deeply complex character fraught with contradictions: a kind man with a vicious wit, a gregarious charmer who was ruthlessly competitive, a private person compelled to spill his secrets on the printed page. <em>Updike</em> offers an admiring yet balanced look at this national treasure, a master whose writing continues to resonate like no one else’s.</p>
<p><strong>An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2014:</strong> Especially with fiction, It’s often useful to separate artists from their art, to assume that a novel, or an entire body of work, isn’t thinly veiled autobiography. <i>Updike</i>, Adam Begley’s exhaustive and revealing account of the American master’s life, begs us to reconsider that doctrine. Detailed yet readable, it goes far beyond describing the chronology of this unsurprisingly complex (and often paradoxical) character, layering on the lit crit where John Updike’s real life bled into his novels. Essential for admirers and illuminating for anyone with an interest in literature, <i>Updike</i> already merits consideration as one of the best biographies of 2014. <i>--Jon Foro</i></p>