According to Adam Begley, John Updike was the ‘poet laureate of American middleness’. Updike was also the laureate of American massiveness – sprawling across genres, enormously prolific, and insatiable in his demand to be loved and lodged, as Begley puts it, ‘in the heart of the American people not just today but tomorrow’. Updike’s strenuous efforts have now been rewarded with the traditional prize: a major scholarly biography.
Begley is a freelance journalist and a former editor at the New York Observer – certainly no slouch, but no centaur either. This is his first biography, and not surprisingly he is slightly in awe of Updike, a rare, almost mythological creature who seemed to spring fully formed from Harvard