November 2012

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The John Updike Society needs presenters and moderators to fill two panels at the 2013 American Literature Association Conference in Boston, Mass. The conference runs from May 23-26 and will be held once again at the Westin Copley Place, right across from the library and within an easy walk of the Commons.

Proposals for papers and expressions of interest in moderating should be sent to:  James Plath ( by the end of December.

We hope that the JUS can be a presence at ALA. If you live within a short drive of Boston or are planning on attending ALA anyway, please consider helping our organization by participating on one of two panels.

Graduate students and independent scholars working on Updike need not currently be a member of The John Updike Society in order to submit a proposal.

Bob Batchelor’s “John Updike: A Critical Biography,” which will be published by Praeger on April 30, 2013, is now available for pre-order at Amazon.

Here’s the description of the hardcover (226-page) book:

Widely considered “America’s Man of Letters,” John Updike is a prolific novelist and critic with an unprecedented range of work across more than 50 years. No writer has ever written from the variety of vantages or spanned topics like Updike did. Despite being widely recognized as one of the nation’s literary greats, scholars have largely ignored Updike’s vast catalog of work outside the Rabbit tetralogy. This work provides the first detailed examination of Updike’s body of criticism, poetry, and journalism.

Examining Updike’s criticism and journalism, popular culture scholar Bob Batchelor shows how that work played a central role in transforming his novels. The book disputes the common misperception of Updike as merely a chronicler of suburban, middle-class America by focusing on his novels and stories that explore the wider world, from the groundbreaking The Coup (1978)  to Terrorist (2006). John Updike: A Critical Analysis asks readers to reassess Updike’s career by tracing his transformation over half a century of writing.

The Society is saddened to report that Robert “Bob” McCoy passed away on Sunday, November 4. Dr. McCoy was the San Diego State University administrator/scholar behind the stage production of Buchanan Dying at the Little Theatre there March 18-20 and March 25-27, 1977, as part of The Institute for Readers Theatre Series. McCoy had written his dissertation on Updike’s short stories in 1974 at the University of Southern California.

Member James Yerkes says that Bob was “generous to a fault with information about his long personal acquaintance with Updike and a true gentleman scholar.” He is survived in San Diego by his wife, Arlene, and two sons.

Sam Tanenhaus, who interviewed John Updike on many occasions, wrote in a post-election essay that Rabbit Redux “remains the most illuminating and prophetic of modern political novels, though on the surface it seems not about politics at all.”

Here’s the link to “John Updike’s ‘Rabbit Redux’ and White Working-Class Angst,” with thanks to Maria Mogford for drawing our attention to it. The photo is courtesy of The New York Times.

Society member Bob Batchelor, who recently accepted the volunteer position of Marketing and Media Director for The John Updike Childhood Home, had an essay published in The Mailer Review 6:1 (2012): 129-44, titled “Mailer and Updike: Probing American Culture as Writers and Celebrities.”

Philly journalist Will Bunch thinks that the Reading baseball team would have been better renamed in honor of Updike’s most famous character. But of course not all readers agree. Here’s the opinion piece from Thanks to Jack De Bellis for calling it to our attention.