Adam Begley’s ‘Updike’

20SUBPAMUK-master675Orhan Pamuk at The New York Times:

Here, in no particular order, are some of the memorable data from Updike’s universe that I learned from this delightfully rich book: He enjoyed poker and golf. At Harvard, he was classmates with Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, “son of the hereditary imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims,” and he made use of the prince’s “fabulously exotic background” in the story “God Speaks.” In 1962, he taught creative writing courses at Harvard Summer School and was not happy about it. When he was writing for The New Yorker’s Talk of the Town section, he also composed a 600-page novel called “Home,” set in Pennsylvania, but never published it. He didn’t board an airplane until he was 24, but after he became famous he traveled the world and projected his experiences onto his character Bech. After moving to Ipswich, Mass., which he wrote about in “Couples” (1968), “he threw himself with reckless enthusiasm into the tangle” of suburban infidelities. He wrote so much about sex, as this admiring biography tells us without too much irony, because “he was writing about what he knew.” But there were “only two extramarital affairs of real significance” in his life. He married twice and had four children. At the age of 70, he had “few close friends, none of them intimate.” For a long time, he was in regular correspondence with his mother and with Joyce Carol Oates. He never felt completely at ease with computers; the Internet made him nervous, and he never owned a cellphone. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Updike and his second wife, Martha, were staying in Brooklyn Heights in a 10th-floor apartment from which they witnessed the fall of the twin towers, and he wrote about the experience in The New Yorker. The last book Updike reviewed was an 800-page biography of John Cheever.

more here.