In this follow-up to Bech: A Book, Henry Bech, the priapic, peripatetic, and unproductive Jewish American novelist, returns with seven more chapters from his mock-heroic life. He turns fifty in a confusing blend of civic and erotic circumstances while publicizing himself in Australia and Canada. He marries a shiksa and travels with her to Israel, where she falls in love with the land, and to Scotland, where he does. And—sweating buckets! thinking big! minting miracles!—he writes an ingeniously tawdry bestseller. Bech’s aesthetic and moral embarrassments reveal acid truths about both his trade and our times.
About the Author
John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker, and since 1957 has lived in Massachusetts. He is the author of fifty-odd previous books, including twenty novels and numerous collections of short stories, poems, and criticism. His fiction has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells Medal.
“Bech is back all right, but only after paying a large and painful price. . . . Updike reflects in these pages on the odd and unsettling ways in which art can impinge upon life, the ways in which a book acquires a life of its own that seems wholly unrelated to that of the person who created it, the ways in which celebrity separates those upon whom it is bestowed from reality.”—The Washington Post
“Mr. Updike finds full scope for his gifts here: for sly and cheerfully malicious pensées on contemporary literary life; for busy observations on human behavior.”—The New Yorker
“[Updike] at the top of his craft.”—Time