Some of my work on Updike was discussed on The Dish with Andrew Sullivan.
Some of my work on Ross Macdonald was discussed on Pretty Sinister Books.
Here is my interview with superstar music impresario Wendy Starland.
Here is my interview with Pulitzer Prize nominee Olympia Vernon.
Here is my interview with the editor of Best American Short Stories, Heidi Pitlor.
Here is my interview with acclaimed artist Emil Kazaz.
My musing on John D. Macdonald, Travis McGee, and the chicks was picked up on The Rap Sheet.


     Peter
     Quinones
     Postmodern
     Deconstruction
     Madhouse
      
                        Reflections on Bellow, Updike and DeLillo
             
                        
             Most writers of fiction, of course, draw heavily on their own life experiences in the composition of novels and stories but John Updike – and this can be both fortunate and unfortunate for a reader, depending on one’s taste– is the sort of author whose work is often intensely, even obsessively,  autobiographical.  His early fiction – numerous short stories and five or six of his early novels – virtually require the serious reader to slough through a lot of material about Updike’s actual life in order to be fully appreciated.  Notice – I don’t say his work can’t be understood or appreciated at least to some degree or level without this research lingering in the background.  That would be ridiculous.  However, when this research is married to careful readings of the fiction, the fiction becomes infinitely richer and, in some cases, great.  Updike’s greatest strength as an author, as innumerable critics have pointed out, is the beauty of his descriptive prose.  (He has limited facility with dialogue – his characters talk like John Updike characters no matter what mise-en-scene he has them operating in.) 
I would go a little further.  I would venture that, at his very best, Updike has the same ability as Picasso – you can literally learn a different way of seeing from this man.  I’ll be selecting a few examples of his writing in order to defend this statement, but first let me just say that this is not intended to be an exhaustive study.  I have neither the desire nor the ability to read through Updike’s twenty something novels and three thousand pages of stories with a fine tooth comb.  I may comment here and there on a few of his later works but, for the most part, I ‘m trying to restrict myself to the following books: The Early Stories, 1953-1975; Rabbit, Run; The Centaur; Of the Farm; Couples; and Marry Me, with special stress and emphasis on Updike’s hymn to his father, The Centaur.  I use that as my cornerstone because it is in it that some of the trademarks of Updike’s fiction really start to become apparent – the obsessive, even pathological, foot fetish and the tension between hard science and more humanistic, spiritual explanations of the universe, to cite just two examples  among possible others. Some of the work Updike did after this is also very strong, for example the remaining Rabbit novels and Roger’s Version, but some of it is almost unimaginably weak, lacking all sense of proportion and apparently done solely for the purpose of keeping the pen moving.  (I believe Keith Richards was once asked why he was still touring with the Rolling Stones after fifty years and answered, “I’ve never had any other job.”) 
  



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