Your Scribe is currently reading "Updike," by Adam Begley. Much has been written about this titan of letters, but a reason I am perusing it that I am friendly with one of his sons, the local artist and good fellow, Michael Updike.
The much-honored Updike died in 2009. He lived for many years (17) in Ipswich and in Beverly Farms.
The brilliant, productive writer has had many biographers, but Begley must be the most fastidious.
He knew the family, and had access to many letters, diaries and interviews.
His research was exhaustive but his prose is energizing.
I am listening to it as an audio-book, and the comforting tone of reader Grover Gardner adds to the good moments.
Several thoughts about info in the book, published in 2014:
- Unlike most writers, Updike was a success from the start. He was an all-star with the Harvard Lampoon while schooling in Cambridge, and he was offered a staff position at The New Yorker shortly after leaving campus. The prolific Pennsylvania native was publishing books when he was in his mid-twenties. Though there is no real connection, his steady ascent reminds me of that of Andrew Wyeth - straight to the top as a young man and remaining there.
- His writing was remarkably auto-biographical. If Updike ran into a hedge with his auto or walked into the bedroom of a neighborhood volleyball wife, the reader was likely to hear about it.
- So far in the bio he is still likable. Though many feminists have detested his work, the quotes and references I've encountered in the first half haven't ruined him yet. In bios of major figures such as Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor (Kitty Kelley clip jobs) and one by Johnny Carson's former agent, the star loses much appeal. Updike is still holding up in Begley's exhaustive biography.
As a result, I plan to return to the "Rabbit" novels as soon as I have time.