Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Last week I was pleased to pick up a new copy of John Updike's posthumous title, Higher Gossip: Essays and Criticism.  This, the final collection of Updike's illuminating book reviews, poems, essays on fiction, and miscellaneous prose, represents the work he was compiling prior to his death in January of 2009.  His estate was gracious enough to provide this collection--a big book littered with Updike's typical menagerie of wide-ranging ideas and subject matter.

I've been reading this book every day since I purchased it, small bits and pieces from an author I already miss terribly.  Every time I have five or ten minutes between bites of licorice whip or jelly donut, I break open the book and read. But I'll be reading this one well past Christmas day.

Reading Updike's luminous book reviews and his glowing prose helps me to realize that my book reviews, compared to his, are mud pies.  Updike is a thoroughbred; I'm a mule.  He writes. I hack.

I can only hope that my editors don't realize this and fire me.  Maybe I can continue to disguise my inadequacies.  Perhaps they don't realize that I write my book reviews under the influence of coffee and donuts.  Take caffeine and raspberry jelly out of my chemistry equation and I couldn't type.

But until I'm laid off . . . I'll continue with my diet and write as many reviews as the editors seem fit to send my way.

Anybody out there got a book that needs reviewing?   


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