Adam Begley. Harper, $34.99 (576p) ISBN 978-0-06-189645-3
This deferential but insightful biography takes its place among the go-to sources on the life of the Pennsylvania-born “poet laureate of American middleness,” who died in 2009. Without always matching the laborious detail of Jack De Bellis’s John Updike’s Early Years (2013), this comprehensive account from literary critic Begley draws on deep research and interviews with the author and his circle to chart his early influences—in particular his ambitious mother, Linda—and rigorously explore the heavily autobiographical dimensions of his fiction and poetry. A homeward-looking yearning and an unswerving ambition run throughout Updike’s life and career. In addition to his own astute observations, Begley (whose father was a Harvard classmate of Updike’s) marshals revealing commentary by Updike’s contemporaries, like college roommate and future historian Christopher Lasch, who discuss the hesitations and insecurities hounding him. Begley devotes hefty chapters to Updike’s long relationship with the New Yorker, as well as the fame-making, family-growing Ipswich years from whence came Rabbit, Run. The book limns the conflicted emotional makeup beneath its subject’s polished public persona, detailing his tenuous relationship with the WASP establishment, his restless sexual infidelities, and his alienation from 1960s counterculture. At the same time, Updike is revealed to have no great interior tumult on a par with that of his troubled alter ego, Harry Angstrom. Indeed, readers will see in Begley’s Updike an exceptionally gifted, but in many ways mainstream, American man. 16-page b&w photo insert. Agent: Georges Borchardt, Georges Borchardt Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/17/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 592 pages - 978-0-06-210966-8
MP3 CD - 978-1-4815-0564-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-4815-0563-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-4815-0565-9
Paperback - 592 pages - 978-0-06-189646-0
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