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  • Author:
    John Updike
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    Penguin Group(CA) (June 1, 2007)
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    352 pages
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John Hoyer Updike was an American writer, poet, literary critic and novelist. After completing school he returned to America where began to contribute to ‘The New Yorker’ at a regular basis marking the beginning of a remarkable writing career.

John Hoyer Updike was an American writer, poet, literary critic and novelist. He was born on 18th March 1932 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Updike was the only child of Wesley Russell Updike, a mathematics teacher and an aspiring writer Linda Grace Hoyer. His mother’s writing passion became a major influence on young John. His first story for this magazine was called ‘Friends from Philadelphia’. John Updike remained at his post of staff writer for ‘The New Yorker’ for two years.

John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He is the author of over fifty books, including The Poorhouse Fair; the Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest); Marry Me; The Witches of Eastwick, which was made into a major feature film; Memories of the Ford Administration; Brazil; In the Beauty of the Lilies; Toward the End of Time; Gertrude and Claudius; and Seek. Updike graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year at Oxford's Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of staff at the New Yorker, and he lived in Massachusetts from 1957 until his death in January 2009.

For John Updike, protestant where Bech is Jewish, productive where Bech is silent, this 'alter-ego' allows him to. .

For John Updike, protestant where Bech is Jewish, productive where Bech is silent, this 'alter-ego' allows him to explore, with satire, wit and often, tedium, the celebrity life an author sometimes finds himself living, without ever really knowing how it all happened. The Complete Henry Bech' published by Penguin - and more on that later - contains two novellas and a short story. It is missing a few other Bech titles, which leaves the appreciation and criticism of the entirety of Bech an impossible feat.

The following is the complete bibliography of John Updike (March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009), an American novelist, poet, critic and essayist noted for his prolific output over a 50-year period. His bibliography includes some 21 novels, 18 short story collections, 12 collections of poetry, 4 children's books, and 12 collections of non-fiction. Novels are highlighted in bold.

The Complete Henry Bech book. This is a great book of stories. From his birth in 1923 to his belated paternity and public. The usual wonderful writing by John Updike, interesting character, lots of humor and unexpected twists, Plus the added filip of knowing that he was writing from his own knowledge of the writing world.

People Who Read The Complete Henry Bech Also Read. Inspired by Your Browsing History. A deft poke at what it means to be a writer in America. In his extraordinarily productive career, John Updike has given us a multitude of memorable characters, but none more lovable than the high-minded, mild-mannered, rather hapless writer Henry Bech. One of Updike’s best creations. Bech is Updike’s alter ego, a mouthpiece for Updike’s often sarcastic, even caustic insight into writers and the writing life.

These stories were compiled as The Complete Henry Bech (2001) by Everyman's Library.

In New York, Updike wrote the poems and stories that came to fill his early books like The Carpentered Hen (1958) and The Same Door (1959). These works were influenced by Updike's early engagement with The New Yorker During this time, Updike underwent a profound spiritual crisis. These stories were compiled as The Complete Henry Bech (2001) by Everyman's Library.

The Complete Henry Bech (Everyman's Library). The Best American Short Stories of the Century. John Updike, Katrina Kenison. Download (PDF). Читать. Download (EPUB).

Поиск книг BookFi BookSee - Download books for free. The Complete Henry Bech (Everyman's Library). John Henry Williams (1747-1829): Political Clergyman': War, the French Revolution, and the Church of England (Studies in Modern British Religious History). 3 Mb. Steel Drivin' Man: John Henry: the Untold Story of an American Legend. Scott Reynolds Nelson. 0 Mb. John Henry Newman: The Challenge to Evangelical Religion. 607 Kb. Henry James: Complete Stories, 1892-1898 (Library of America). Henry James, John Hollander.

Henry Bech, the celebrated author of "Travel Light", has been scrutinized, canonized and vilified by critics and readers across the world. Here, the experiences of this bemused literary icon, one of Updike's greatest creations, are described in hilarious detail, as he travels the world struggling to break his writer's block; returns to his native America to find new success with "Think Big", his all-time blockbuster; and visits communist Czechoslovakia, where he is greeted by a dizzyingly adoring public. Brilliantly comic and deeply poignant, "The Complete Henry Bech" is one of the greatest of all explorations of the writing life and of what happens when a writer becomes a literary celebrity.

Library Copy
Plenty of much better writers than me have written about the literary merits of John Updike's fiction, so I'm not going to even attempt that here, nor do I think it necessary to offer a synopsis. Many years ago I read "Bech: A Book," and "Bech is Back" and found them quite amusing , and I wanted to read the last couple of works in this series. I find with all anthologies that the type is a bit small, but it quite crisp, and seems to pretty newly composited, (unlike say their version of "Bleak House" which is clearly old,) and the pages, although thin, are not of parchment-like thinness of the valuable yet punishing "American Library."
Henry Bech, a Jewish writer who has been unproductive for well over a decade, finds himself continually offered free trips to obscure Eastern European countries. Academics from minor American universities call to offer him accommodation in return for a trip around the lecture circuit. Magazines and newspapers publish, every now and again, short articles entitled 'Whatever happened to Henry Bech?'. Once an up and coming novelist and now just an author who doesn't write, Bech lives the meaningless jet-set life of the author who has attained distinguished writer status simply by virtue of not having written a word in years. For John Updike, protestant where Bech is Jewish, productive where Bech is silent, this 'alter-ego' allows him to explore, with satire, wit and often, tedium, the celebrity life an author sometimes finds himself living, without ever really knowing how it all happened.

'The Complete Henry Bech' published by Penguin - and more on that later - contains two novellas and a short story. Bech: A Book is primarily concerned with Bech's adventures around the world, which essentially gives Updike an excuse to mention that countries major writers and to make allusions to them throughout the text. Bech is Back is the most entertaining of the trio and deals, in part, with Bech finally publishing after fifteen years silence, his often-referred to but never really worked out novel, Think Big. In between, he is married, divorces, and has plenty of literary discussions with young female editors, typists, fans, reviewers - all of whom seem remarkably enamoured with the author. Finally, there is Bech in Czech, a very short story which returns to the main conceit of Bech: A Book which, by now, has become somewhat unnecessary to the needs of the character. Rather than continuing to reveal the comic adventures of the novelist, Updike trots Bech around Czech, then ends the story. Certainly the weakest of the three.

What this collection does have going for it is the character of Bech. Like Harry Angstrom from Updike's remarkable Rabbit series, Bech has an active internal life, and is capable of describing the world around him in a way that, when it works, speaks of poetry, and when it does not, devolves into yet another comparison to sex, or sex organs - female, usually. Bech is much more literary than Harry, and refers either by name and title to other author's works - Roth, Mailer, Bellow, Salinger, Lewis, Dreiser, Vidal. These references work because Bech is an author, because he is supposed to know about writers, but a lot of the drug and women scenes ring with a hollow tone, because we have seen them elsewhere by Updike, and they were better. Bech, when he sticks to his strengths - parodying awards ceremonies, the reputation of an author, declining literary stardom, rising literary stardom, reviewers, editors, star-struck fans, greedy fans, nonchalant socialites, publishing conglomerates - works remarkably well, because the reader can't help but be aware that Updike, who himself has won many awards and has been a writer for his entire adult life, knows enough about the process and the fakery to be able to satirise with the honesty of information and sharpness of intent to really take a bite.

Some scenes are very funny indeed. For his entire career, Bech has had an admirer, Federbusch, who has tirelessly stayed by his author, collecting every edition that comes out in every language, and posting, with reply paid envelopes, to Henry Bech to sign. Bech is touched by this, so touched that when he is in the neighborhood - Cedar Meadow, Pennsylvania - he decides to pay his fan a visit. To his horror, he finds that his books are not in fact proudly displayed on Federbusch's bookshelf but instead, 'The books were not erect in rows but stacked on their sides like lumber, like dubious ingots, in this lightless closet along with - oh, the treachery! - similarly exhaustive, tightly packed, and beautifully unread collections of Roth, Mailer, Barth, Capote...' Poor Bech learns the hard way that fans cannot always be trusted, that the right reader may never be found. Later Bech is informed that a new edition of his books are to be printed by 'Superbooks', which is owned by a vast conglomerate. He is to be paid $1.50 for every piece of paper he signs for the company, for a total of twenty-eight thousand five hundred pieces of high-rag-content paper. He is flown to the Caribbean along with his wife - the company recommends a puller for maximum efficiency signing - and they spend two weeks signing and signing and signing. Bech's obsession with his own signature provides a lot of laughs, and shows again the strength of a writer parodying writers.

But a lot of the work comes tumbling down. When Updike sticks to writers, he is untouchable with Bech's touchy, arrogant, sensitive, misunderstood, concerned, literary, anxious, aged character packing all the punches and pulling none. But that other great theme of Updike's oeuvre: adultery, sex, the female body, is used far too often in a series that really doesn't need it, and can only be harmed by its addition. This creates a spotty effect for the novel, because the character of Bech can't quite succeed in the sometimes fragile, sometimes blunt ruminations on carnality for which Harry was so admired.

The Penguin edition of The Complete Henry Bech is, unfortunately, not complete. It is missing a few other Bech titles, which leaves the appreciation and criticism of the entirety of Bech an impossible feat. For all the misgivings I felt while reading about Bech, I also felt much affection for his wry speech, his witty thoughts, his complete disregard for his fans and friends. There was a lot to love, but also a lot to dismay the Updike faithful among us. I shall leave with one last question - Why make Bech a Jew? It seems to add nothing except a perfunctory trip to Israel and a few fairly standard Jewish jokes at Bellow and Roth's expense. And, given that most of Bech was written in the '70s and '80s, and set in Europe, it would be assumed that the Jewish situation there would be handled with more delicacy than it is. A confusing aspect to Bech's character, but it adds to the overall unevenness of the work - why couldn't Updike stick to his strengths for the whole work? This collection works in patches.
I've always considered Updike much more valuable for his superlative book reviews than for his, to my mind, more-sizzle-than-steak fiction. (If you dig past the nostalgic plethora of period detail in the Rabbit books, there really isn't a great deal there.) But 20 years after accidentally discovering Henry Bech on the shelves of the public library (just as Updike has said he likes to imagine people encountering his books), his hapless exploits with women and the Muse continue to provide me with unfailing pleasure. It's a fine service to American literature to have them all - including the previously uncollected story "His Oeuvre", one of the best - gathered together between one set of hardcovers.
There is however, I'm sad to say, a big ugly boil on the butt of this otherwise handsome volume: the semi-infamous "Bech Noir", in which Updike, seemingly grown disgusted with the continuing durability of his character, jerks him through a sour ludicrous pantomime - the sheer awfulness of which makes it almost impossible to look at him the same way again. .... It's as if Frank L. Baum, around the fourth or fifth Oz book, had Dorothy move to Los Angeles where she became a crack whore. After that, the valedictory tale in which Bech most implausibly receives the Nobel Prize comes across as simply another gesture of contempt - whether towards the Swedish Academy, for honoring the even-less-qualified Toni Morrison rather than himself, or towards the reader, I can't say. All I can tell you - strange advice, I know - is to skip those two stories if you haven't been contaminated by them already.
Updike's Jewish alter ego is an extension of his imagination and identity. He recognizes and absorbs the ' identity ' of his major rivals of the time Bellow and Roth and shows he also can be them and be that. But a projection however clever does not in this case have the power of what is closer to him, with him. And there is greater authenticity and strength in the 'Rabbit Books'.

I have I think also an objection which only a minority of readers will share. Bech is a pasteboard Jew who has no real deep Jewish knowledge or identity. This does not mean characters like him do not exist, or Updike had no right to create him. It does mean that those of us looking for some depth when they meet a Jewish intellectual or cultural figure are quite disappointed.

In any case it is clear that for Updike Bech is just a sideshow, one of the many that constitute parts of the complex identity of this very remarkable American writer.