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Your face, Lord, will I seek

John Updike's new novel isn't very good fiction but as a veiled work of art criticism it reveals his deepest obsessions as a writer

By Sebastian Smee   May 2003

Book: Seek My Face Author: John Updike Price: Hamish Hamilton, ?16.99

John Updike studied art in London as a young man, and although he abandoned his artistic ambitions early on, he never gave up thinking about art. Reviewing exhibitions has been a constant and important part of his prolific output. And Updike, at his best, is capable of conjuring a density of sensual description, a fine-grained intimacy; a literary equivalent to Dutch interior painting.

Description, however, exists in tension with linear narration, and Updike is often criticised for his novels’ meandering plotlessness. Unfazed by such criticisms, his sentences get longer…

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