‘Updike’ by Adam Begley

Merlin_720106Michael Dirda at The Washington Post:

Compared to most lives, John Updike’s was golden from the get-go. The adored only son of a highly educated mother (who herself wrote fiction, some of it eventually published in the New Yorker), the star student of Shillington, Pa.’s high school, recipient of a scholarship to Harvard, an invaluable contributor to the Harvard Lampoon (“seven cover illustrations, more than a hundred cartoons and drawings, sixty poems, and twenty-five prose pieces”), winner of a year’s fellowship to Oxford University’s Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, a staff writer for the New Yorker in his early 20s, and then a successful and wealthy novelist for the next 50 years, as well as an underrated poet and a superb reviewer of books and art exhibitions, Updike could apparently do no wrong.

Except, of course, in his private life. Just before his senior year at Harvard, Updike married an intelligent and quietly attractive Radcliffe student named Mary Pennington.

more here.