The connection between sex and death is John Updike’s great subject. It’s quite complicated, this connection, in the Updike world. It’s not just that sex is deadly, for example, or death sexy. For Updike, sex involves both acknowledgement of ageing and the attempt to transcend it. He’s obsessed with the ways in which we try to get beyond the limits that shape our lives: the limits that are our fraying skins, the limits that are marriages.