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Updike's passing this morning left me looking at my bookshelves. The man gave good weight, as the butchers say; he sustained his enthusiasm & never embarrassed himself. There are a couple-three touchstone essays among his best, meditations on why psychological realism still matters, & you can't knock that cluttered '70s scrapbook RABBIT IS RICH. But these Bech stories are the ones that stick between my vertebrae. They compose an all-too-real fantasia of a career lost in the funhouse of American
Reading other reviews on this site and coming to the book only after going through the entire Rabbit series, I had expected to be disappointed by Bech. Turns out, I wasn’t. In fact, I was treated to agile, able, intelligent prose once more, and I relished every page of Henry’s ridiculous adventures. There’s something so vital in John Updike, such brains at the wheel, such good-natured humor; he's a bit of a gentleman and a bit of its opposite, and I love how they combine.Besides, that cliché acc...
Great combination of the three Bech books, a fine introduction, and a closing story, "His Oeuvre". Read together, you see the growth in Bech, from his foreign country tours of the famous American non-prolific author, through his personal life and marriages, and on to the culmination of his career, a thoroughly undeserved Nobel Prize. The stories ended with a surprising arc. I found the closing story to be an reminder of the best parts of Bech, occasionally grasping for excellence and occasionall...
I think Henry is Updike himself.
I picked this up years ago on a recommendation to help my writing skills. It helped some, but I wasn't impressed by the stories.
I'm currently in my third year of a PhD program in clinical psychology. In addition to coursework, my thesis, and non-thesis research, I also work three days a week at a mental health clinic. I am regularly stressed and exhausted. When asked what we do for "self care" (a term I dislike), most of my fellow students and trainees report that they like to do exercise or watch tv or read genre lit or anything that allows them to rest their brains for a while. I'm no different. When I get home, I talk...
Not very sharp. Updike has some novels that merely appear to be humorous, but when viewed a little closer they fail to have the luster one would expect. Once a writer can get anything published, bad money chases out the good. Of course, a bad Updike is as good as anyone from this generation, I have to say. It still falls short of some of the pearls from the same author that were cast in front of me in my youth.
Updike is best known for his four novels following the life of Rabbit Angstrom, an often confused white middle-class American., from his teen-age years to his death. But Updike also followed another character for nearly half a century, his fictional Henry Bech, a Jewish writer who is far from the Americana of Rabbit. This volume includes the twenty stories that Updike wrote about Bech over a period of forty years and along with the Rabbit books reveals Updike's America from two completely differ...
Beautiful excrescence of words. Detailed accounting of twentieth century literati. With no love, No compassion for his characters. He might as well be writing about dead fish with his cold, cold eye.
This is a great book of stories. The usual wonderful writing by John Updike, interesting character, lots of humor and unexpected twists, Plus the added filip of knowing that he was writing from his own knowledge of the writing world.
Three different collections of short stories featuring the Jewish, selfcentered, and objectively fairly mediocre author Henry Bech. Fun and interesting - and of course in the inimitable prosestyle of the Master novelist. But not close to the depth of his Rabbit-books (of which I have read the first two and will definitely read the other two as well). I suppose (hope) that these stories to Updike were “amusements” (of course referring to the term used by another of the greats, Graham Greene).
i read this on a recommendation. i find updike very hard to read (e.g. rabbit, run). this book reminded me why: he writes about women as if they were another species, and not at all flattering. i realise it's supposed to be funny but even so, as a woman, i found myself disgusted by these 'creatures' he describes. that's supposed to be a woman? makes you wonder how he got through life being surrounded with half of the population made up of these disgusting creatures. this is a collection of short...
Really great. A lot of quotable material in here. If you live in NY you will love it. Possible that deep enjoyment of this book requires you to live in NY. As Updike explains of his star: "he had the true New Yorker's secret belief that people living anywhere else had to be, in some sense, kidding." There are many editions of this book and there are slight changes to the writing and different stories are included. I liked them all but it's frustrating to try to determine exactly what was publish...
After thououghly enjoying the Rabbit books and hoping they could continue, I wasn't able to finish this one (though my enthusiasm carried me through a few of the four books before I stopped). I found the stories behind the Iron Curtain interesting, but the character was not likable and the whole book was so absorbed in literary circle navel gazing that I was really turned off. Rabbit looked out at the world, but Bech stares sneeringly into his own literary world.
Henry Bech's adventures take him through many time zones and encounters...all the while his dialogue and inner thoughts are captured in that uniquely Updike way. Very enjoyable book with a few 'odd' chapters - the latter part did not ring entirely true; especially 'killer Henry'...but it was fun to read.Have to say for those who know much of Updike's work, Henry Bech is altogether less likeable than Rabbit. But that's just my opinion!
Hadn't read any Updike before this. The character comes across as unbelievably inconsistent, but this stems from the serialization. These stories appear decades apart as Updike uses Beck to explore different pieces of the literary life. He does a brilliant job of pulling disparate threads together to create this novel, but it never feels like a work conceived in one piece. Definitely will interest me in pursuing other works by Updike.
An hysterical account of Updike's ficticious Jewish author, Henry Bech. Updike proves himself a master of comedy as we follow the hapless Beck through affairs with undergrads & massive writer's block. My favorite moment comes when he is sent to a beach to autograph stacks of his books, and finally, actually forgets how to write his own name! Priceless.
Perhaps greater than the sum of its parts, due to Updike's sly humor. I enjoyed Malcolm Bradbury's introduction, which I read after finishing the text; it made me want to read the whole collection again in the light of his comments. I wish the collection had included the interviews of Bech by his creator, which Bradbury refers to.
Updike's best, better than the Rabbit series in my opinion. Bech is referred to as Updike's alter-ego; he travels the globe in these books- the wailing wall has to be my favorite location. Highly recommended.
Bliss. A whole new Updike character that I'd never got around to.
Solid Updike. Very enjoyable overall but "Bech Noir" was over the top and bizarre. Still, I'd recommend the collection as a whole.