More Matter: Essays and Criticism

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9780140289701: More Matter: Essays and Criticism

This is a rich collection of John Updike's more recent essays, critical writings and reflections. Wide ranging, incisive, witty and always superbly written, "More Matter" has something to say about almost everyone - from Graham Greene to Bill Gates to MickeyMouse - and everything - from sexual politics to spiritual matters to unopenable packages. It provides any number of intimate glimpses into how this remarkable mind works.

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Review:

Ever since he made his two-pronged prose debut in 1959 with The Poorhouse Fair and The Same Door, John Updike has delivered approximately one work of fiction per year. Few modern novelists have approached this level of productivity, which suggests a kind of late-Victorian stamina and linguistic lust for life. Even fewer have simultaneously churned out, as Updike has, a constant stream of reviews, essays, reminiscences, and occasional pieces. His custom is to collect this abundance every decade or so, disguising the substantial nature of these volumes with throwaway titles like Picked-Up Pieces and Odd Jobs. The latest such cornucopia is More Matter--and, like its predecessors, this 928-page behemoth reminds us that Updike is among our most discerning and omnivorous critics.

His title, this time, echoes Queen Gertrude's editorial advice to Polonius: "More matter, with less art." Only reluctantly does Updike assent to our age's appetite for facts, facts, and more facts, with fiction relegated to a kind of imaginative finger bowl:

Human curiosity, the abettor and stimulant of the fiction surge between Robinson Crusoe's adventures and Constance Chatterley's, has become ever more literal-minded and impatient with the proxies of the imagination. Present taste runs to the down-home divulgences of the talk show--psychotherapeutic confession turned into public circus--and to investigative journalism that, like so many heat-seeking missiles, seeks out the intimate truths, the very genitals, of Presidents and princesses.
Strong stuff, that last line, especially from the man whom Nicholson Baker called "the first novelist to take the penile sensorium under the wing of elaborate metaphoric prose."

But if Updike's critical investigations tend to stay above the belt, they remain as wide-ranging and elegant as ever. In More Matter, he takes on Herman Melville and Mickey Mouse, Abraham Lincoln and the male body--not to mention the cream of modern cosmology. His formulations on almost any subject seem ripe for the commonplace book. Here he is on sexual appetite: "Lust, which begins in a glance of the eye, is a searching, and its consummation, step by step, a knowing." On the short story: "The inner spaces that a good short story lets us enter are the old apartments of religion." On the austerity of biblical narrative: "The original Gospels evince a flinty terseness, a refusal, or inability, to provide the close focus and cinematic highlighting that the modern mind expects." And finally, on the raw intimacies of John Cheever's published journals:

His confessions posthumously administer a Christian lesson in the deep gulf between outward appearance and inward condition; they present, with an almost unbearable fullness, a post-Adamic man, an unreconciled bundle of cravings and complaints, whose consolations--the glory of the sky, the company of his young sons--have the ring of hollow cheer in the vastness of his dissatisfaction. Comparatively, the journals of Kierkegaard and Emerson are complacent and academic.
These sentences neatly unite the author's literary and theological concerns--although the latter topic takes something of a back seat in More Matter--and remind us of the compound pleasures of his prose. In his preface, Updike refers to the book as "my fifth such collection and--dare we hope?--my last." We very much hope not. --James Marcus

From the Inside Flap:

John Updike's fiftieth book and fifth collection of assorted prose, most of it first published in The New Yorker, brings together eight years' worth of essays, criticism, addresses, introductions, humorous feuilletons, and -- in a concluding section, "Personal Matters" -- paragraphs on himself and his work. More matter, indeed, in an age which, his introduction states, wants "real stuff -- the dirt, the poop, the nitty gritty -- and not . . . the obliquities and tenuosities of fiction."

Still, the fiction writer's affectionate, shaping hand can be detected in many of these considerations. Herman Melville, Edith Wharton, Sinclair Lewis, Dawn Powell, Henry Green, John Cheever, Vladimir Nabokov, and W. M. Spackman are among the authors extensively treated, along with such more general literary matters as the nature of evil, the philosophical content of novels, and the wreck of the Titanic. Biographies of Isaac Newton and Queen Elizabeth II, Abraham Lincoln and Nathaniel Hawthorne, Robert Benchley and Helen Keller, are reviewed, always with a lively empathy. Two especially scholarly disquisitions array twentieth-century writing about New York City and sketch the ancient linkage between religion and literature. An illustrated section contains sharp-eyed impressions of movies, photographs, and art. Even the slightest of these pieces can twinkle.

Updike is a writer for whom print is a mode of happiness: he says of his younger self, "The magazine rack at the corner drugstore beguiled me with its tough gloss," and goes on to claim, "An invitation into print, from however suspect a source, is an opportunity to make something beautiful, to discover within oneself a treasure that would otherwise have remained buried."

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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. More Matter is a collection of John Updike s best-loved critical essays and reflections. From the journals of John Cheever to the Queen of England, More Matter is a lively discussion on contemporary art, issues and people, told from the inimitable perspective of Pulitzer prizewinner John Updike. Wide ranging, incisive, witty and always superbly written, it has something to say about almost everyone - from Graham Greene to Bill Gates to Mickey Mouse - and everything - from sexual politics to spiritual matters to unopenable packages. It provides any number of intimate glimpses into how this remarkable mind works. Praise for More Matter: Unlike most journalism, Updike s occasional writing is so exquisite as to repay multiple readings Publishers Weekly More Matter attests to Mr. Updike s remarkable versatility and to his ardent drive to turn all his observations into glittering, gossamer prose.In his strongest pieces, Mr. Updike s awesome pictorial powers of description combine with a rigorous, searching intelligence to produce essays of enormous tactile power and conviction New York Times More Matter will leave even his closest followers amazed.Updike can write about anything, in any form and at any length, and do it with intelligence and knowledge and grace and agility and wit-and oh, the prose Pittsburgh Tribune Review John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. His novels, stories, and nonfiction collections have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009. Bookseller Inventory # LIB9780140289701

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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. More Matter is a collection of John Updike s best-loved critical essays and reflections. From the journals of John Cheever to the Queen of England, More Matter is a lively discussion on contemporary art, issues and people, told from the inimitable perspective of Pulitzer prizewinner John Updike. Wide ranging, incisive, witty and always superbly written, it has something to say about almost everyone - from Graham Greene to Bill Gates to Mickey Mouse - and everything - from sexual politics to spiritual matters to unopenable packages. It provides any number of intimate glimpses into how this remarkable mind works. Praise for More Matter: Unlike most journalism, Updike s occasional writing is so exquisite as to repay multiple readings Publishers Weekly More Matter attests to Mr. Updike s remarkable versatility and to his ardent drive to turn all his observations into glittering, gossamer prose.In his strongest pieces, Mr. Updike s awesome pictorial powers of description combine with a rigorous, searching intelligence to produce essays of enormous tactile power and conviction New York Times More Matter will leave even his closest followers amazed.Updike can write about anything, in any form and at any length, and do it with intelligence and knowledge and grace and agility and wit-and oh, the prose Pittsburgh Tribune Review John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. His novels, stories, and nonfiction collections have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009. Bookseller Inventory # LIB9780140289701

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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd (UK) Okt 2014, 2014. Taschenbuch. Book Condition: Neu. Neuware - More Matter is a collection of John Updike's best-loved critical essays and reflections. From the journals of John Cheever to the Queen of England, More Matter is a lively discussion on contemporary art, issues and people, told from the inimitable perspective of Pulitzer prizewinner John Updike. Wide ranging, incisive, witty and always superbly written, it has something to say about almost everyone - from Graham Greene to Bill Gates to Mickey Mouse - and everything - from sexual politics to spiritual matters to unopenable packages. It provides any number of intimate glimpses into how this remarkable mind works. Praise for More Matter : 'Unlike most journalism, Updike's occasional writing is so exquisite as to repay multiple readings' Publishers Weekly 'More Matter attests to Mr. Updike's remarkable versatility and to his ardent drive to turn all his observations into glittering, gossamer prose. . . . In his strongest pieces, Mr. Updike's awesome pictorial powers of description combine with a rigorous, searching intelligence to produce essays of enormous tactile power and conviction' New York Times 'More Matter will leave even his closest followers amazed. . . . Updike can write about anything, in any form and at any length, and do it with intelligence and knowledge and grace and agility and wit-and oh, the prose' Pittsburgh Tribune Review John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. His novels, stories, and nonfiction collections have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009. 897 pp. Englisch. Bookseller Inventory # 9780140289701

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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd (UK) Okt 2014, 2014. Taschenbuch. Book Condition: Neu. Neuware - More Matter is a collection of John Updike's best-loved critical essays and reflections. From the journals of John Cheever to the Queen of England, More Matter is a lively discussion on contemporary art, issues and people, told from the inimitable perspective of Pulitzer prizewinner John Updike. Wide ranging, incisive, witty and always superbly written, it has something to say about almost everyone - from Graham Greene to Bill Gates to Mickey Mouse - and everything - from sexual politics to spiritual matters to unopenable packages. It provides any number of intimate glimpses into how this remarkable mind works. Praise for More Matter : 'Unlike most journalism, Updike's occasional writing is so exquisite as to repay multiple readings' Publishers Weekly 'More Matter attests to Mr. Updike's remarkable versatility and to his ardent drive to turn all his observations into glittering, gossamer prose. . . . In his strongest pieces, Mr. Updike's awesome pictorial powers of description combine with a rigorous, searching intelligence to produce essays of enormous tactile power and conviction' New York Times 'More Matter will leave even his closest followers amazed. . . . Updike can write about anything, in any form and at any length, and do it with intelligence and knowledge and grace and agility and wit-and oh, the prose' Pittsburgh Tribune Review John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. His novels, stories, and nonfiction collections have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009. 897 pp. Englisch. Bookseller Inventory # 9780140289701

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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd (UK) Okt 2014, 2014. Taschenbuch. Book Condition: Neu. Neuware - More Matter is a collection of John Updike's best-loved critical essays and reflections. From the journals of John Cheever to the Queen of England, More Matter is a lively discussion on contemporary art, issues and people, told from the inimitable perspective of Pulitzer prizewinner John Updike. Wide ranging, incisive, witty and always superbly written, it has something to say about almost everyone - from Graham Greene to Bill Gates to Mickey Mouse - and everything - from sexual politics to spiritual matters to unopenable packages. It provides any number of intimate glimpses into how this remarkable mind works. Praise for More Matter : 'Unlike most journalism, Updike's occasional writing is so exquisite as to repay multiple readings' Publishers Weekly 'More Matter attests to Mr. Updike's remarkable versatility and to his ardent drive to turn all his observations into glittering, gossamer prose. . . . In his strongest pieces, Mr. Updike's awesome pictorial powers of description combine with a rigorous, searching intelligence to produce essays of enormous tactile power and conviction' New York Times 'More Matter will leave even his closest followers amazed. . . . Updike can write about anything, in any form and at any length, and do it with intelligence and knowledge and grace and agility and wit-and oh, the prose' Pittsburgh Tribune Review John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. His novels, stories, and nonfiction collections have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009. 897 pp. Englisch. Bookseller Inventory # 9780140289701

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