On the other hand to have no faith is to live in an almost intolerably bleak universe. The poster boy of small-town, WASP existentialism has long been more eclectic and worldly than his thumbnail reputation would suggest. The Coup features the ex-dictator of a fictional African state, and in Updike retold Tristan and Isolde in the contemporary chaos of Brazil. In the Bech novels, dating fromhe establishes a literary alter-ego who is everything Updike is not, including Jewish.
With its alarmist title bisected by a bolt of apocalyptic lightning on the cover, and its determined plotting towards a climax that threatens runaway trucks and mass destruction, it has a bit of the feel of a Freddie Forsyth or a Len Deighton.
Odder still, given this blockbuster trajectory, it comes loaded with all the familiar brilliance of Updike's writing: It begins in a high school and, directly, inside the head of the eponymous terrorist: He will not, it quickly becomes clear, be easily diverted from the imperative of the title, and nor, it seems, will his author.
Ahmad Mulloy is on an unlikely suburban front line. New Prospect is an old mill town, emptied of purpose. Mulloy is typical of its mix: He has found discipline, and his taste for disapproval of his mother's free spirit, in his adoptive religion, along with a disastrous father figure in his radical imam.
Out of this biography Updike seeks to nurture a jihadist.
Ahmad, we are told, loathes the decadent West, 'the way of the infidels, headed for a terrible doom'. He wants his head to be full of the Koran, but Updike, writing in a sympathetic third person, makes him of the devil's party whether he likes it or not.
The young holy warrior cannot control his wandering Updikean eye: Ahmad's struggle with temptation and his determination to serve his god, is set against the more earthly frustrations of his school counsellor, a lapsed Jew named Jack Levy, who becomes increasingly concerned by the A-grade student's determination to skip university and learn to drive a large truck 'Until you are 21 you can't drive out of state, you can't carry hazardous materials Levy, a classic Updike creation, has plenty more to keep him awake at night, though: In attempting to persuade Ahmad that he should not be neglecting his homework in favour of studying the loading capacities of toxic chemicals Levy falls into a relationship with the boy's artist mother, a familiar story of afternoon lust and disabling guilt.
Remarkably, for much of what is the most thriller-like of Updike's books, none of this seems forced, not the fact that Jack's sister-in-law works for the Secretary of State for Homeland Security, not the staged dialogues about faith and America between Jack and Ahmad, or those about faith and sex between Ahmad and Joryleen, or those about faith and sacrifice between Ahmad and his imam.
Despite all the imperatives of his plotline Updike is incapable of clunkiness, but while he creates a character of genuine complex sympathy in Ahmad, the 'terrorist' never quite emerges as a credible mass murderer. Ahmad seems too attuned to the world, too Updikean. He may have his finger on the red button of destruction - and be careering along in a narrative packed with explosives - but he seems as likely to admire the way the sunlight catches its surface, as to actually press it.Comparisons can be drawn in this regard between Updike and Philip Roth and John Irving.
Useful, too, is a consideration of the several New Yorker short stories by Updike's son David, collected in Out On the Marsh (New American Library, ): "Separating" from another angle. Panic Among the Philistines – America’s Greatest Writers Fight for Survival. India’s Most Frightening Crime, Education of Alfonse D’Amato, A Way Out in El Salvador.
G/VG. $ September, Patronage Doesn’t Make Your Talented, It Just Makes You Richer. John Updike, one of the U.S.’s most prolific and respected writers, died yesterday of lung cancer at the age of As a novelist, short story writer, poet and critic, Updike was a man of many talents.
Walls may represent power, but they also represent isolation and fear. Gated communities, after all, are only a second best solution to safety, but we have all come to accept second best solutions as the best on offer (Ellin, , p.
). by John Updike pp, Hamish Hamilton, £ At a stage at which he might be forgiven for resting on his well-earned laurels, John Updike has chosen to tackle a subject as risky as it is topical.
From the pen of Pulitzer Prize winning author John Updike ("Witches of Eastwick," "Rabbit Run"), comes the story of a young man's search through the questions of life and death, and the wondrous discovery of living in the soaring beauty of one of nature's simplest creations.