This closing account of Updike's recent, post-Rabbit fiction aims to be tentative and inconclusive. After all, the writer shows no signs of abating his astonishing productivity, and to label, as does my chapter title, his work in the 1990s as "effects" may be merely glib. Surely it doesn't suggest how much creative life is to be found in the four novels, as well as the "quasi-novel" Bech at Bay ( 1998) and the short fiction contained in The Afterlife ( 1994) — to say nothing further of other nineties publications such as Collected Poems ( 1993) and the two massive collections of essays and criticism, Odd Jobs ( 1991) and More Matter ( 1999). But there is another reason, aside from recent additions to the rapidly increasing oeuvre, for abstaining from judgments etched in stone about work that has appeared, as it were, only yesterday. The reviewer of the individual volumes as they appear is called upon to judge them as firmly and unambiguously as possible; a writer completing an account of a literary career may occupy himself with describing its most recent trajectory and trying to make imaginative sense of it in relation to what came before. (I will say nothing here about the often-amusing Bech at Bay, nor about Brazil, published in 1994 — in my judgment his least successful, certainly least humorous novel.) 1
What immediately preceded these books are the stocktaking memoirs, Self-Consciousness, and the last and best of the Rabbit books. As noted previously, Updike has spoken of "packing my bag
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Publication information: Book title: Updike:America's Man of Letters. Contributors: William H. Pritchard - Author. Publisher: Steerforth Press. Place of publication: South Royalton, VT. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 301.
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