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Adam Begley talks about his highly acclaimed biography of one of America's greatest writers, John Updike

6th November 2014
Venue: Laxton Long Room, North Street, Oundle PE8 4 AL
Time: 19:30

In 2009, the death of John Updike, one of America’s most popular and revered authors, produced countless eulogies in the literary community and beyond. His productivity – he was the author of 60 books, including 27 novels – and his gift for probing the central themes of modern American life, including religion, sex, and the struggle of the middle class, spoke for themselves.

But Updike’s death also kindled a fascination with the author’s own life, which critic Adam Begley illuminates in this brilliant biography. Begley explores Updike’s life through the lens of the places that shaped him: his Berks County, Pennsylvania childhood; his Harvard education; his brief foray into life in New York; his extensive travel abroad; and his family and later years in small Massachusetts towns.

Central to Begley’s portrait is the degree to which Updike’s own tumultuous personal life, which included two marriages and a number of affairs, was reflected in his fiction. The result is a biography that calls on Begley’s gift for literary criticism to delve deeply into the beloved works – from Couples to The Witches of Eastwick to the Rabbit novels – that reveal Updike as both a writer and a man.

In these pages Updike comes to life as a deeply complex character in his own right, full of contradictions – a gentle man with a vicious wit, a gregarious charmer who was ruthlessly competitive – that few readers realise.

Drawing on in-depth research and interviews with countless friends and relatives, this masterful biography delivers a candid, intimate, and richly detailed look into the life of one of the most celebrated figures in American literature.

Adam Begley lives in Oundle. He has been for many years literary critic for the New York Observer but has spent the last 5 years writing a biography of John Updike. Adam’s book has just been released to tremendous reviews:

“A brilliant biography… a delightfully rich book” – Orhan Pamuk, New York Times

“An exemplary biography, full of insights” – Sunday Times (UK)

“A superb achievement… as rewarding as Updike’s best fiction” – The Boston Globe