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A collection both intimate and generous of the eloquent, insightful, beautifully written prose works that John Updike was compiling when he died in January 2009. This collection of miscellaneous prose opens with a self-portrait of the writer in winter, a Prospero who, though he fears his most dazzling performances are behind him, reveals himself in every sentence to be in deep conversation with the sources of his magic. It concludes with a moving meditation on a modern world robbed of imagination--a world without religion, without art--and on the difficulties of faith in a disbelieving age. In between are previously uncollected stories and poems, a pageant of scenes from seventeenth-century Massachusetts, five late "golf dreams," and several of Updike's commentaries on his own work. At the heart of the book are his matchless reviews--of John Cheever, Ann Patchett, Toni Morrison, William Maxwell, John le Carre, and essays on Aimee Semple McPherson, Max Factor, and Albert Einstein, among others. Also included are two decades of art criticism--on Chardin, El Greco, Blake, Turner, Van Gogh, Max Ernest, and more. Updike's criticism is gossip of the highest order, delivered in an intimate and generous voice.
About the Author
John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker, and since 1957 has lived in Massachusetts. He is the author of fifty-odd previous books, including twenty novels and numerous collections of short stories, poems, and criticism. His fiction has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells Medal.
CHRISTOPHER CARDUFF, editor, is a consulting editor at The Library of America. His collected edition of William Maxwell's ction, published to mark the writer's centenary, will be completed by a second volume, "Later Novels and Stories," in fall 2008.