On Rereading John Updike's Rabbit Quartet
Julian Barnes takes a fresh look at John Updike's Rabbit Quartet and finds he still thinks it is the greatest postwar American fiction. "Running Away" The Guardian, 17 October 2009.
"When a writer you admire dies, rereading seems a normal courtesy and tribute. Occasionally, it may be prudent to resist going back: when Lawrence Durrell died, I preferred to remain with 40-year-old memories of The Alexandria Quartet rather than risk such lushness again. And sometimes the nature of the writer's oeuvre creates a problem of choice. This was the case with John Updike. I have only ever met one person – a distinguished arts journalist – who has read all Updike's 60-plus books; most of us, even long-term fans, probably score between 30 and 40. Should you choose one of those previously unopened? Or go for one you suspect you misread, or undervalued, at the time? Or one, like Couples, which you might have read for somewhat non-literary reasons?"
Read the rest of Barnes's thoughts on Updike at The Guardian.