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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight, eloquence and originality
It is fashionable among some intellectuals and critics to deride dead white authors, but reading John Updike's unusual and revealing memoirs reminds me of his now past greatness. As an avid reader, Updike is one of the great stylists I have read, a chronicaler of ordinary lives and times, a man who sees through the detail of everything he confronts with a clarity that...
Published 14 months ago by The Outsider

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3.0 out of 5 stars ???
I don't read fiction as a rule and so have not read much Updike. There is much written about golf and not much worth reading apart from Woodhouse so I gained a great opinion about Updike from his book on golf which is really quite extraordinary. I turn to this book about which I have little to other than it has not converted me to reading fiction again.
Published 1 month ago by Trumpeter


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight, eloquence and originality, 14 May 2013
This review is from: Self-Consciousness (Paperback)
It is fashionable among some intellectuals and critics to deride dead white authors, but reading John Updike's unusual and revealing memoirs reminds me of his now past greatness. As an avid reader, Updike is one of the great stylists I have read, a chronicaler of ordinary lives and times, a man who sees through the detail of everything he confronts with a clarity that defies comparison. He was great, and this memoir, strange as it is, is great.

Updike chooses to tell fragments of his life story in six highly unusual chapters. The first is all about his upbringing in Shillington PA. It is told through an anecdote about waiting for lost luggage in his birth town much later in life, while his spouse and daughter watch a film he has alredy seen. The second is all about his psoriasis - the bane of his life. All his life, he was uncomfortable in his own skin, and this chapter explains, in part, his awkward and detailed observational style. The third chapter is about his stutter and asthma - it too displays the humility and wisdom of the author. The idea of an autobiography driven by ones own faults cuts the egotism - or magnifies it. Who cares about these odd faults? But that is his magic.

Chapter four is odd too- his relative support for the American war in Vietnam made Updike stand out in the 1960's and caused great bitterness in his personal and professional life. His defense is stunning - he is a moderate, loyal man, brought up to vote and believe in morals - and he found his world gone mad. In this, he is like the great Saul Bellow, who also embraced the classics and other vestiges of old, white civilisation when the world spun out of control. Chapter five is a long letter to his racially mixed grandsons, an amazing and quite detailed sketch of the white Updike clan, who had been in America since the early 17th Century. I found it fascinating but not as much as the other chapters. He confesses his liberal feelings - he was an early supporter of civil rights, and he has nothing but love for the boys.

The last chapter, is, of course, the best - all about death. Updike is a relgious man - and I am not. That said, he puts his faith driven worldview out in front of the reader, and it is beautiful. This chapter is worth the cover price alone.

So no more output from Updike - that means, read all that is published. He wrote so well about nothing but life itself (critics accuse him of having nothing to say about big issues). He was great at this, one of the best writers in English to ever grace a blank page.

Stunning and memorable, quirky and revealing.
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2.0 out of 5 stars 'SELF CONSCIOUSNESS', 24 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Self-Consciousness (Paperback)
I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED UPDIKE'S BOOK. I HAVE READ ALL HIS NOVELS AND ALSO THE LATEST BIOGRAPHY OF HIM. IN SELF CONSCIOUSNESS HE COMES CLEAN ABOUT HIS ILIFE. IT WAS FASCINATING.
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3.0 out of 5 stars ???, 28 May 2014
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This review is from: Self-Consciousness (Paperback)
I don't read fiction as a rule and so have not read much Updike. There is much written about golf and not much worth reading apart from Woodhouse so I gained a great opinion about Updike from his book on golf which is really quite extraordinary. I turn to this book about which I have little to other than it has not converted me to reading fiction again.
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Self-Consciousness
Self-Consciousness by John Updike (Paperback - 13 Mar 2012)
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