Seek My Face
By John Updike
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780375414909, 288pp.)
Publication Date: November 12, 2002
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John Updike’s twentieth novel, like his first, The Poorhouse Fair (1959), takes place in one day, a day that contains much conversation and some rain. The seventy-eight-year-old painter Hope Chafetz, who in the course of her eventful life has been Hope Ouderkirk, Hope McCoy, and Hope Holloway, answers questions put to her by a New York interviewer named Kathryn, and recapitulates, through the story of her own career, the triumphant, poignant saga of postwar American art. In the evolving relation between the two women, the interviewer and interviewee move in and out of the roles of daughter and mother, therapist and patient, predator and prey, supplicant and idol. The scene is central Vermont; the time is the early spring of 2001.
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 father of four children and the author of fifty-odd previous books, including collections of short stories, poems, and criticism. His novels have 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.
“A brief novel of deep feeling . . . What you recall is that reading Updike has always provided the pleasures you hoped were in store when you went through the trouble of learning to read.”—Time
“The premise of Seek My Face is clean and powerful, like a canvas by Barnett Newman. . . . Swirled over [it] is John Updike’s superabundant prose, dazzling strings of looping sentences that wrap these two women in glittering constellations of words.”—The New York Observer
“A rewarding new novel from our reigning master of surprise, the last sequence of which is surpassing in its beauty.”—San Francisco Chronicle