The New York Times just published a review of Lorrie Moore’s collection of essays and reviews, See What Can Be Done, which included the acclaimed author’s review for John Updike’s early short stories.
As Dwight Garner writes, “Reviewing a collection of John Updike’s early short stories (she deeply admires them), Moore recalls that Updike said he left New York City because it was ‘overrun with agents and wisenheimers.’ She ushers in ‘a literary friend of mine’ to catch the vague aroma of anti-Semitism there. ‘Agents and wisenheimers,’ the friend asks. ‘Is that Shillington, Pennsylvania, for ‘Hymietown?’”
Moore’s “great feelers” for fictional works allow her to notice “the way ordinary friendship is largely missing from Updike’s work.” She also recalled Updike leaving New York because it was “overrun with agents and wisenheimers,” which her “literary friend” noted as emitting “the vague aroma of anti-Semitism.”
Updike’s name comes up more than once. In another reference, Garner writes, “Three panegyrics to Alice Munro are two too many. Upon arriving at the third, I thought of the older editor at The New York Times Book Review who said to me early in my tenure there: ‘If I have to read another thousand words about John Updike, I am going to hurl myself out that goddamn window.’”
He notes as well, “In her reviews of fiction (by Margaret Atwood, Joan Silber, Bobbie Ann Mason, Philip Roth, Stanley Elkin and Richard Ford, among many others), she has great feelers. She notices the way ordinary friendship is largely missing from Updike’s work.”
Read the full article here