cover image Due Considerations: Essays and Criticism

Due Considerations: Essays and Criticism

John Updike, . . Knopf, $40 (703pp) ISBN 978-0-307-26640-8

Updike's latest is an endlessly welcoming series of essays—every nonfiction piece he has published in the past eight years—offering Updike's characteristically reasoned perspective on a familiar range of subjects, including Old Masters artwork, literary biography and the history of the New Yorker . The heart of the book is Updike's literary criticism, characterized by a wide lens that summarizes a good portion of an author's output: this collection is invaluable for Updike's generous assessments of contemporaries such as Gabriel García Márquez, Orhan Pamuk and Alan Hollinghurst. Updike is still at his most vibrant when sexual politics are close at hand, and his summary undressing of David Allyn's history of the sexual revolution, Make Love, Not War, is brilliant in its mingling of personal and social history. As a collection, this is also notable for its high volume of occasional writing: book introductions, short speeches and responses to magazine requests, no matter how ephemeral, are all gathered to overwhelming effect. It is hard to complain about too much of a good thing in this addition to the formidable Updike collection. 25 illus. (Oct. 29)