Odd Jobs

Essays and Criticism

By John Updike
(Random House Trade, Paperback, 9780812983791, 997pp.)

Publication Date: December 4, 2012

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Description

To complement his work as a fiction writer, John Updike accepted any number of odd jobs—book reviews and introductions, speeches and tributes, a “few paragraphs” on baseball or beauty or Borges—and saw each as “an opportunity to learn something, or to extract from within some unsuspected wisdom.” In this, his largest collection of assorted prose, he brings generosity and insight to the works and lives of William Dean Howells, George Bernard Shaw, Philip Roth, Muriel Spark, and dozens more. Novels from outposts of postmodernism like Turkey, Albania, Israel, and Nigeria are reviewed, as are biographies of Cleopatra and Dorothy Parker. The more than a hundred considerations of books are flanked, on one side, by short stories, a playlet, and personal essays, and, on the other, by essays on his own oeuvre. Updike’s odd jobs would be any other writer’s chief work.




About the Author
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 author of fifty-odd previous books, including twenty novels and numerous collections of short stories, poems, and criticism. His fiction has 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.
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