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Roth? Seriously? Updike, sexist ass as he was, could at least turn a phrase. Roth is a really bad writer and a misogynist to boot. I'm surprised he hasn't been able to work out his issues with women with a therapist; oh, silly me, why should be bother, if he can make tons of money writing bad novels about his hangups. Sorry, that should be novel - one novel over and over and over again.

Scott Lemieux

Great post, thanks!

Bill Altreuter

I wonder whether anyone will read Updike in 20 years. It seems to me that the greatest pleasure he gave me was when I'd come across a story in the New Yorker. My practice is read the magazine cover-to-cover, and there have been many times when I'd be reading a piece of fiction and thought, "Huh. This is good-- who's it by?" The answer was frequently Updike, although I can't say that I've ever had the impulse to re-read anything I came across that way.

I liked his reviews too. He was an honest broker when appraising other people's work, even though his review often contained better writing that the work he was describing.

His great subject-- life in late 20th Century middle-class America-- is most of our lives, and I think you are right about the feeling "Rabbit Run" evokes, but Updike didn't feel personal to me. When Mailer died, I thought I'd lost a friend, but the stuff Mailer wrote about wasn't really connected to my life, except to the extent that Mailer was all about having an imaginary larger than life existence. For all of the glories of his prose, Updike's world was a bleak, depressing place to inhabit. He described it beautifully, but the people who lived in it didn't enjoy it as much as he enjoyed writing about it.

Oh, and Apostate-- Roth is the real deal, with range and complexity and depth. He has certainly produced his share of bad books, but he has also produced things that are unlike anything done by any other American writer. In my view he is the 20th Century American novelist that most deserves the Nobel, and the fact that Toni Morrison and Saul Bellow were tapped for this recognition while Roth has not been is one of the classic instances of the Swedish Academy getting it wrong.


"Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu" pwns. End of story.


"Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu" pwns. End of story.

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