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Now that I have finally read Stephen King, I love the sense of fulfillment in reading authors who are long overdue. John Updike is another one. He might be best known for his Rabbit tetralogy, but there’s much more to this amazingly prolific author. Prolific authors are a problem for me because I don’t know where to begin in the oeuvre. It takes some effort of research to narrow down to five books. My goal is to read at least one so I can pop my Updike cherry before the end of 2012.

Couples. The premise of this book is shocking. Couples is about the sex lives of ten people from the fictional town of Tarbox, New England, who enjoy what one character calls “the post-pill paradise”. I won’t be surprised if it was banned in some narrow-minded towns.
The Witches of Eastwick. It presents a darker, more sexualized side to the three New England witches and was tipped by Time magazine as one of the five best novels of the year at the time it was published.
The Centaur. A touching tale of the relationship between a high school teacher and his son (likely inspired by the author’s own father, a teacher), Updike’s third novel won him the National Book Award.
Roger’s Version. The novel’s narrator, Roger Lambert, is a professor of divinity at an unnamed northeastern university. He comes into contact with a student in search of a grant from the divinity department.
Rabbit tetralogy. Maybe at least one book from this series?

Readers, what do you like? What have you read?


6 Responses

  1. I also have never read anything by Updike but I plan on reading the Rabbit series this year, since it’s on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

  2. Hi Matthew,

    You might find my review of Couples interesting.

    I have read the Rabbit tetralogy and have hated Updike since then. Couples improved the taste in my mouth a bit, but not a lot.

  3. Despite his immense output (his Hew Yorker contributions alone are impressive), Updike’s writing is (was) consistently great. His canon provided me with a detailed look at how those on the East Coast lived. Towards the end of his life he wrote a slim volume of poetry called “Endpoint” which I recommend, along with his novels.

  4. John Updike can be hit or miss, but I really loved In The Beauty of the Lilies when I read it with my book club 10+ years ago. Have kept it on my shelf in hopes of rereading one day. The Witches of Eastwick was okay, but not great, and Villlages was a DNF on audio. Updike has written some wonderful short stories, too. “When Everyone Was Pregnant” is one that stands out in my mind. Hope to read the Rabbit books eventually.

  5. Matt,
    I love Updike immensely. He actually came to Colorado College a few years ago to deliver a talk about writing in general . I would suggest you begin with the Rabbit series. I love the first Rabbit book and then Rabbit at Rest.

  6. I read Rabbit Run back in college. I can’t say that I remember liking it, in fact I don’t remember much of it at all. I remember the course I read it for and the professor. Hmmm…you are making me want to have second go of it just to see what I think of it and to refresh my memory.

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