Content Tagged ‘John Updike’

Review: Nabokov’s ‘Speak, Memory’

September 14, 2010 | 11 Comments

Literary artistry and a chilly persona imbue this classic memoir. Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited by Vladimir Nabokov. Knopf, 268 pages. “There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point, arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic.” Vladimir Nabokov follows this intriguing precept, which he announces in Speak, Memory, with vigor in the book, fondling the minute sensory and surface …

[Read More]

John Updike’s impressive sentences

July 5, 2010 | 7 Comments

We are all so assimilated. Last Saturday, Hope was watching the evening news and the newscaster instead of Tom Brokaw was a perfectly stunning young woman, light topaz eyes as far apart as a kitten’s, sharp-cornered wide mouth pronouncing everything with a perfect rapid inflection, more American than American, crisper, a touch of that rapid barking voice of the     thirties gangster films and romantic comedies, and when she signed off her name wasn’t even Greek, it was more like Turkish, …

[Read More]

Narrative among the dark Danes

February 8, 2010 | No Comments

Memoir, storytelling, and Soren Kierkegaard’s sideways quest. K. Brian Soderquist, U.S.A.-born and now a Danish citizen, co-author of Kierkegaard’s Concept of Irony, teaches my son Tom’s Kierkegaard class this winter in Copenhagen. While on a recent field trip, Brian conveyed to Tom and to his study-abroad classmates an interesting perspective on storytelling that resonates for all nonfiction writers and especially for memoirists: “I think we should keep in mind that on this trip we’re going to hear a lot of narratives—or …

[Read More]

For the well-read writer . . .

December 11, 2009 | One Comment

If there’s a writer of any stripe on your holiday gift list, you could do worse than to buy The Paris Review Interviews, Vols. 1-4, a new boxed set that collects the journal’s fifty years of interviews with famous and emerging writers. (Take note, Claire and Tom!) E.B. White (1899–1985), gifted essayist and author of immortal children’s books, sat down for his interview with The Paris Review in 1969. The New Yorker’s great stylist, candid to the point of self-effacement, …

[Read More]

Honesty and chronology, part two

September 11, 2009 | No Comments

William Zinsser addresses the issue of fidelity to chronology in his On Writing Well, and I was surprised by his answer. Perusing the thirtieth anniversary edition of this sober classic on nonfiction, I expected Zinsser to be very conservative in all matters regarding literal truth, but after a long career of successful freelance magazine and book writing he’s practical about quotes and timelines. He approves of legendary New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell’s composite quotes and blended timelines in his profiles. …

[Read More]

Review: ‘Self-Consciousness’

February 11, 2009 | 2 Comments

John Updike’s memoir showcases his artistry and his delight in it. Self-Consciousness: Memoirs by John Updike. Ballantine/Fawcett. 271 pages. Without trying, I was always reading something by John Updike. It was hard not to, especially if you read The New Yorker, where his fiction, essays, and reviews appeared for fifty years. I love his memoir, Self-Consciousness, much of which explores what made Updike awkward and shy: his introverted boyhood, his stutter; and his many adult afflictions, especially psoriasis and bad …

[Read More]