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Roger's Version (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 1 Jun 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (1 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014118843X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141188430
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 344,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Remarkably interesting . . . One finishes it with . . . renewed respect for one of the most intelligent and resourceful of contemporary novelists."--David Lodge, "The New York Times Book Review"
" "
"Wonderful reading from beginning to end . . . The precise, laconic bull's-eye descriptive passages in this novel continually amaze with their absolute accuracy.""--San Francisco Chronicle"
"Wonderfully tricky and nakedly sharp-minded . . . Updike's Roger Lambert is a perfectly 20th-century beast--boastfully wicked in all directions.""--The Washington Post Book World" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

A born-again computer whiz kid bent on proving the existence of God on his computer meets a middle-aged divinity professor, Roger Lambert, who'd just as soon leave faith a mystery. Soon the computer hacker begins an affair with professor Lambert's wife -- and Roger finds himself experiencing deep longings for a trashy teenage girl.

"From the Paperback edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Paperback
This is one of Updike's very best novels, up there with the last two Rabbit books. It has the glorious prose style one expects and his fabulous ability to describe a whole variety of sensations - what it's like to touch a baby's head, the shape of a tree or face, the smell of a room. In addition, Roger Lambert, the narrator has a pleasingly sour voice (his students are described in the first paragraph as 'the hopeful, the deluded, and the docile') which lends an often comic asperity to the whole novel. Highly recommended.
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This being an Updike novel, of course it is superbly written. We have all the usual attractions: wonderful observations of everyday life, beautiful prose, and an abundance of wordy descriptive page fillers. However, the first person narrative creates a contrived end result: the characters, including the main one, are inconsistent and shallow, their motivations and actions unsatisfactorily explained - if at all. There are also lots of contradictions, for example there are no individual voices, all characters talk, feel and act on the same lines as the narrator/main character; or, the same person is very perceptive then inexplicably obtuse just a few pages later. Plus, everybody uniformly behaves like Alice in Wonderland, remaining untroubled by what we'd consider to be most shocking and outrageous happenings. This is not only an inevitable consequence of the first person artifice; it is, I think, mostly due to the novelist's failure to construct well-rounded and convincing characters. The overall impression is that Updike despised everyone in this novel - that he just couldn't be bothered with his characters, and obviously focused on his religion vs. science agenda instead. In which case, Updike would have been much better off (and more honest) to just write a book of essays on the subject, Martin Gardner-style.

As it is, the novel is made of two halves: one is on the subject of religion and science and debates whether contemporary science, and computing especially, could provide us with proof of god's existence. There are some excellent and gratifying barbs at creationism. However, whether you're an atheist or a religious believer, I doubt that this book would revolutionize your way of thinking or could sway anyone the other way.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Here's the thing. Ordinary people like you and me - oh sure I am making an assumption here - ordinary people like you and me need to be brought in contact with geniuses like John Updike. Its good for the soul. It reminds you you're not as clever as you think you are. It makes you humble. It reminds you how lucky you are to be even conscious in the first place. Conscious enough to read books like the one above.
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