By John Updike
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780812982961, 272pp.)
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
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John Updike’s memoirs consist of six Emersonian essays that together trace the inner shape of the life, up to the age of fifty-five, of a relatively fortunate American male. The author has attempted, his foreword states, “to treat this life, this massive datum which happens to be mine, as a specimen life, representative in its odd uniqueness of all the oddly unique lives in this world.” In the service of this metaphysical effort, he has been hair-raisingly honest, matchlessly precise, and self-effacingly humorous. He takes the reader beyond self-consciousness, and beyond self-importance, into sheer wonder at the miracle of existence.
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.
“Fascinating . . . These memoirs, often unabashedly philosophical, take us inside Updike’s mind in the way that biography almost never can.”—Chicago Tribune
“Opulent . . . charming . . . [Updike’s] best writing, like Nabokov’s, is the prose of rapture.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Poignant . . . wonderfully crafted recollections . . . One completes this book wanting to convey some signal of gratitude, some affectionate reader’s embrace, to this good boy of a grown man who has striven so earnestly and masterly to describe life.”—Chicago Sun-Times