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Monday, November 10, 2008

Against Updike.

Has the reputation of any novelist fallen quite so far and so quickly as that of John Updike? Thirty years ago, he was at least the equal of Philip Roth and Saul Bellow, and maybe even a good few notches above Roth. Bellow’s matt-grey seriousness, to be fair, has also fallen quite sharply as a commodity — whereas Roth keeps on rising with every novel, perhaps because his best work has been written since he hit pensionable age. Updike has been prolific of late, for sure, but his novels, for the past quarter of a century, have been greeted by the critics with a sigh and a knowing nod of the head: uh-oh, it’s him again.