More Matter by John Updike
Essays and Criticism

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Synopsis

In this collection of nonfiction pieces, John Updike gathers his responses to nearly two hundred invitations into print, each “an opportunity to make something beautiful, to find within oneself a treasure that would otherwise remain buried.” Introductions, reviews, and humorous essays, paragraphs on New York, religion, and lust—here is “more matter” commissioned by an age that, as the author remarks in his Preface, calls for “real stuff . . . not for the obliquities and tenuosities of fiction.” Still, the novelist’s shaping hand, his gift for telling detail, can be detected in many of these literary considerations. Books by Edith Wharton, Dawn Powell, John Cheever, and Vladimir Nabokov are incisively treated, as are biographies of Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Queen Elizabeth II, and Helen Keller. As George Steiner observed, Updike writes with a “solicitous, almost tender intelligence. The critic and the poet in him . . . are at no odds with the novelist; the same sharpness of apprehension bears on the object in each of Updike’s modes.”
 

About John Updike

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John Updike was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania, in 1932. 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. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal. In 2007 he received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. John Updike died in January 2009.
 
Published February 19, 2009 by Random House. 928 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for More Matter

Kirkus Reviews

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He touches on it frequently, as in an essay on the liberating suntan culture of the 1950s and “60s: “The young married beauties with whom my then wife and I spent great chunks of summer sunning on a broad beach north of Boston have in the subsequent decades gone from being nut-brown Pocahontases ...

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The New York Times

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In the foreword to ''Picked-Up Pieces,'' his second collection of ''assorted prose,'' John Updike allowed himself to ''hope, for the sakes of artistic purity and paper conservation,'' that in his next such collection the pieces would ''make a smaller heap.'' It was not to be, since that book (''H...

Sep 26 1999 | Read Full Review of More Matter: Essays and Criti...

Publishers Weekly

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Many American writers this century have been called brilliant and accomplished, but Updike is the real thing, as this huge collection of personal essays, social commentary, book reviews, introductions, interviews and occasional pieces amply attests.

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