In this eye-opening, authoritative biography, Adam Begley offers a
captivating portrait of John Updike, the author who saw himself as a
literary spy in small-town and suburban America, and who dedicated himself
to the task of transcribing middleness with all its grits, bumps, and
anonymities. Updike explores the stages of the writer's pilgrim's
progress: his beloved home turf of Berks County, Pennsylvania; his escape
to Harvard; his brief, busy working life as the golden boy at The New
Yorker; his family years in suburban Ipswich, Massachusetts; his extensive
travel abroad; and his retreat to another Massachusetts town, Beverly
Farms, where he remained until his death in 2009. Begley examines how
Updike's fiction was shaped by his tumultuous personal life—including his
enduring religious faith, his two marriages, and his firsthand experience
of the adulterous society he was credited with exposing in the
bestselling novel Couples. With a sharp critical sensibility, Begley probes
Updike's best-loved works and reveals a surprising and deeply complex
character fraught with contradictions: a kind man with a vicious wit, a
gregarious charmer who was ruthlessly competitive, a private person
compelled to spill his secrets on the printed page. Candid, intimate, and
utterly absorbing, Updike is a masterful biography of a national treasure
whose writing continues to resonate like no one else's.

Adam Begley—Updike

  • 9780062410894