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Book Review: Updike by Adam Begley

John Updike has become unfashionable, but few writers have better captured the American character

By Sam Tanenhaus   May 2014

John Updike: unfairly ignored

Updike receives the Medal of Arts in 1989

More than once, Begley reports, Updike instructed New Yorker editors to put a short story in “the bank” (telling phrase), rather than publish it immediately, to avert legal action from the actual people, often his neighbours, conscripted in the service of what Updike cheerfully called his “relentless domestic realism.” His book editor, Judith Jones, doubled as his censor. Reading the manuscript of Couples (1968), his fable of exurban wife-swapping, she “immediately assumed that it was based on the author’s exploits among his…

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