years before N-dubz declared beef wit enyc and 50 took on Cali sparking the West Coast-East Coast feud, the American literary world saw the battle of the new realists and the characterizers, viz. [a:Tom Wolfe|3083854|Tom Wolfe|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1350592993p2/3083854.jpg], [a:Don DeLillo|233|Don DeLillo|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1360742433p2/233.jpg], [a:Philip Roth|463|Philip Roth|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1287938301p2/463.jpg], and this author, John UpDike, battling out their feuds, with perhaps [a:Thomas Pynchon|235|Thomas Pynchon|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1344580482p2/235.jpg], [a:Norman Mailer|7927|Norman Mailer|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1194732456p2/7927.jpg], and [a:Truman Capote|431149|Truman Capote|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1220960599p2/431149.jpg] all forming shifting alliances, schools of thought, cliques of support and what not.
well, the 15 reviews that this Updike book has received more or less shows who has won the battle, but possibly Updike will rise again. in fact, it was at one point a major notable achievement in literary impersonation for the "quintesential" WASP, Updike, to run such a long running cycle of stories, the 'Bech' cycle, whereupon a curmodgeonly, oversexed Jew, who happens to be a writer, provides counterpoint to Updike's experiences as a novelist and allows Updike to pass social commentary on the changing US.
this is actually very tightly-written; a sort of incident-leading-to-incident pageturner that does fail to reach overwhelming awe-inspiring levels of 'lifechanging novel,' but reads quickly, entertains, and argues the values of the NYC literary elite. Bech, as a member of the literary establishment, in this work participates in committees, attends cultural abroad conferences, goes on trial, and then in the quasi-novel's conclusion, becomes ever more fascinating.
"quasi-novel" because these are linked short stories, so to speak; but novel in a sense because there is an overall arc and the ending redeems weaknesses of earlier sections. 4.5/5.0 a shame this book has passed out of popularity a/k/a a gem waiting to be discovered.
Those that didn't appear, like [a:John Irving|3075|John Irving|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1257375547p2/3075.jpg] and [a:John Fowles|10039|John Fowles|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1228801594p2/10039.jpg], garrulously, Dickensianly reacdtionary in method seemed, like [a:John Hawkes|13765|John Hawkes|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1329610253p2/13765.jpg] and [a:John Barth|8113|John Barth|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1222685060p2/8113.jpg], smugly, hermetically experimental. O'Hara, Hersey, Cheever, Updike--suburbanites all living safely while art's inner city disintegrated. And that was just the Johns.