Higher Gossip – reviewed

Here are reviews of Higher Gossip that have come to our attention. Check back. The list will grow:

“Higher Gossip: Essays and Criticism.” Publishers Weekly. 12 September 2011. “The hallmarks of his agile, eloquent prose are evident throughout . . . .”

“Higher Gossip.” Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review). 15 September 2011. “A potpourri of pieces from the busy pen of the gifted Updike (1932-2009) who shows that he could write convincingly about nearly anything.”

“Higher Gossip: Essays and Criticism.” Brad Hooper. Booklist Online. 15 October 2011. “Lines to remember jump out left and right. This one is in reference to Raymond Carver, ‘Some hard times are part of every writer’s equipment.'”

“‘Higher Gossip: Essays and Criticism’ by John Updike.” William H. Pritchard. The Boston Globe. 28 October 2011. “As a whole these varied pieces partake of the major aims of all art: to ‘sidestep mortality with feats of attention, of harmony, of illuminating connection’; to give, in the final words of the introduction to collected early stories, ‘the mundane its beautiful due.'”


“Mixed collection fills some gaps in author’s wide-ranging canon.” Margaret Quamme. The Columbus Dispatch. 6 November 2011. “Ultimately, fans of Updike read him for his cool, convoluted sentences and wry, charming voice. In spite of some flaws, this volume is a reminder of why he will be missed.”

“‘Higher Gossip,’ by John Updike: review.” Thomas Beller. The [SF] Chronicle. 6 November 2011. “The bulk of this book consists of Updike doing that remarkable trick of his in which he functions as a lay professor and speaks with erudition and coherence about an astonishing range of material.”

“Shortlisted: November.” Mark Byrne. GQ. 7 November 2011. “Updike’s a good essayist and all, and he knows a thing or two about fiction, but we think this book makes a clear case for Updike’s true calling: golf writer . . . .”

“Higher Gossip.” Danny Heitman. The Christian Science Monitor. 9 November 2011. “‘Higher Gossip’ isn’t Updike’s best book, but it’s a timely reminder of the graceful companionship that Updike offered to his readers–a presence that will be sorely missed.”

“How Updike Judged.” Andrew Delbanco. The New York Times. 10 November 2011. “Updike was a writer of fluctuating moods, and all are on display here.”

“Art Shorts, November 15, 2011.” Library Journal. 15 November 2011. “Essential for large literary collections.”

“‘Higher Gossip: Essays and Criticism:’ A book review.” Vince Cosgrove. [NJ] Star-Ledger. 20 November 2011. “The joy of reading Updike’s essays resides in the beauty of style and clarity of thought. Updike may have died on Jan. 27, 2009, but there are all those books in which his extraordinary, diverse talents remain alive. No small gift.”

“Gift from Updike: ‘Higher Gossip’ offers thoughts from late writer.” Catherine Holmes. The Post and Courier. 20 November 2011. “Updike knows, even more poignantly in this volume, what it means to be a piece of nature. And he’s more acutely aware that what he covets will outrun what he can possess.”

“Brilliance on display in essays of Updike, Lethem, Atwood.” Jeff Simon. Buffalo News. 27 November 2011. “It isn’t merely Updike’s prose that came from Olympus, it was his brain—that precise and incisive instrument for taking the measure of Cole Porter, dinosaurs, Albert Einstein, John Cheever, Charles Schultz and Chardin with equal readability if not equal insight . . . .”

“Last Notes From a Man of Letters.” Michiko Kakutani. The New York Times. 28 November 2011. “It’s extraordinary not just that Updike established himself as one of the pre-eminent critics of his day, but also that he did so while moonlighting from his vocation as a novelist.”

“The Greatest Gossip.” Benjamin Schwarz. The Atlantic (Editor’s Choice). December 2011. “Christopher Carduff, who has astutely edited this posthumous collection, took the title from Updike’s assertion that book reviewing was ‘gossip of a higher sort’ . . . . But alas, this book doesn’t represent Updike at his best.”

“Smart Picks for Sophisticated Readers.” Julie Hale. Book Page. December 2011. “As demonstrated in this final collection, he was a pro when it came to sharing inside information, writing in a way that was accessible yet always stylish.”

“Higher Gossip: Essays and Criticism.” John Freeman. The Barnes & Noble Review. 2 December 2011. “Updike’s greatest skill–his genius–was in praising, in looking with a kind of devotional attention to the everyday world, and while Higher Gossip is marred by some too-kind reviewing, it also happily includes many examples of this brighter side of Updike’s register.

“Open Book: Higher Gossip, by John Updike.” Philip Marchand. National Post. 2 December 2011. “In only one department of gossip is Updike deficient: he has no mean streak.”

“Writers choose their favorite books of 2011.” [Higher Gossip selected by Paul Hendrickson, Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961). Salon. 9 December 2011. “Killer photograph on front and all that shining language inside, which only makes me long for even more from the master who went away from us all too soon and suddenly.”

“Book collects John Updike’s essays and criticism.” Thomas Beller. San Francisco Chronicle. 30 December 2011. “A bit like Edmund Wilson, Updike tends to start rather dryly and then take off.”

“Review: ‘Higher Gossip’–first posthumous collection of Updike’s essays and criticism.” John Timpane. Philadelphia Inquirer. 31 December 2011. “Academic critics sometimes suggest he was shallow. They’ve missed that his main goal was not an assertion of intellect; it was, first and foremost, to describe and explain the work before him, assess it and account for its impact.

“Higher Gossip by John Updike.” Josh Davis. Time Out New York. 28 December 2011. “For anyone who’s ever wondered what it would be like to have a truly unguarded conversation on a barstool next to a Pulitzer Prize winner, John Updike’s Higher Gossip should do the trick.”

“Collection shows Updike witty and erudite to the very end.” Dave Williamson. Winnipeg Free Press. 31 December 2011. “Among the book reviews, those on biographies of Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz and American novelists Edith Wharton and John Cheever stand out.”

“New Books.” Larry McMurtry. Harper’s Magazine. January 2012. [Available to subscribers only.]

“Booklist Editor’s Choice, 2011: Adult Books.” Brad Hooper. Booklist Online. 1 January 2012. “The last collection of occasional pieces by the late, great man of American letters is a book to be kept at hand and appreciated for a long time to come.”

“A higher sort of prose from John Updike.” Gordon Houser. The Wichita Eagle. 8 January 2012. “Updike’s writing can be summed up by Joseph Conrad’s definition of the artistic impulse as ‘a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible world.'”

“Sailing on the Open Sea: John Updike’s Higher Gossip: Essays and Criticism.” Jaya Aninda Chatterjee. The Millions. 10 January 2012. “The collection focalizes Updike’s mid-to-late career as a man of letters. It also foregrounds his secondary reputation as a consummate art critic.”

“Updike gone? His many fans beg to differ.” Smiley Anders. The Advocate. 18 January 2012. “There is a touching view of Updike as the starstruck fan, encountering ‘the sudden looming, in the lobby of the Algonquin, of J.D. Salinger, a glowingly handsome tall presence . . . .'”

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1 Response to Higher Gossip – reviewed

  1. Jim Z. says:

    I just finished the book. Equal to the high quality of John Updike’s previous volumes of essays and criticism. Made me sad all over again to have lost this genius of a writer.

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