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Seek My Face by John Updike
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Seek My Face (original 2002; edition 2002)

by John Updike

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496938,982 (3.19)15
Takes place in one day, a day that contains much conversation and some rain. The 78-year-old painter, Hope Chafetz, who in the course of her eventful life has been Hope Ouderkirk, Hope McCoy, and Hope Holloway, answers questions put to her by a New York interviewer, and recapitulates, through the story of her own career, the triumphant, poignant saga of postwar American art. In the evolving relation between the two, the interviewer and interviewee move in and out of the roles of daughter and mother, therapist and patient, predator and prey, supplicant and idol.… (more)
Member:d_ray
Title:Seek My Face
Authors:John Updike
Info:ALFRED A. KNOPF (2002), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
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Seek My Face by John Updike (2002)

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» See also 15 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I decided to read this on a whim. This has been on my TBR-list for years and it was one of those likely never to be read. Hope is an artist in her 70s, married three times with three children. She is interviewed by young New York City journalist Kathryn, and the book is of this interview with Hope talking of her three husbands and the development of modern art. The book is one looong chapter. Updike's language is rich and he describes things well using analogies. He also manages to wean in nicely Hope's thoughts that weren't revealed to Kathryn in between what Hope told Kathryn. We, the privileged reader, know all in Hope's mind but not Kathryn. ( )
  siok | Sep 6, 2021 |
I can't believe that I'm the only person to list this book on Librarything as of 3/13/17.. Surely a mistake? ( )
  Denisodea | Mar 13, 2017 |
Now in her seventies, artist Hope Chafetz reflects back on her life and her husbands in an interview with a journalist, Kathryn. The overall timeframe is just one day of an interview, but both their recorded interview and Hope's thoughts range all over the place, through the second World War, art school in New York, several artist movements, and how Hope arrived to this Vermont homestead at last.

While I read, I was reminded most of Mrs. Dalloway. Not a lot happens outside of the character's thoughts - and in this case conversation - but everything from birth to death to marriage and infidelity happens. The title "Seek My Face" causes me to ask the question, "Do we ever get to know Hope?" I'm still not sure I know the answer. This is the type of story my English professors loved and I might have admired once I finished a paper on them, but as a reader leave me frustrated. ( )
  bell7 | Apr 18, 2016 |
Even though the novel takes place over the course of just a single day, it ranges from the 1930s on through the end of the twentieth century in scope. As an artist is interviewed about her life--her work, her marriages, her children, her artistic husbands, and her thoughts on gender, art, and life as a whole--the novel moves gracefully between a female artist's ever-detailed memories and the long conversation she's engaged in with a young writer and student of art. As the dynamic between the two women changes over the course of the interview, the philosophical questions of art and love are more and more a consideration between them, as are questions of how being female has affected the artist's abilities to simply be an artist. And, of course, the disconnect between the artist and the critic is often at the forefront, humorous and disturbing as it may be at varying points. At the center of the book, though, is passion, which is celebrated.

I can't speak to how accurate the discussions of New York's art scene may be, or to how accurately the interview characterizes the art scene in America at mid-century, though it discusses both at length--I can, however, say that the novel is wonderfully entertaining, and beautifully conceived and written. I'd say this is a must-read for anyone whose life revolves around the creation of any form of art, or the criticism/analysis of it. Though the direct subject is painting, many of the discussions apply just so much to writing, dance, and any form of passion that consumes time, energy, and love without, necessarily, regard for the people affected.

Absolutely recommended. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Dec 30, 2013 |
A recurring qualification of the writing of John Updike is that technically it is perfect, but rather uninspired. Likewise, Seek my face, is a very well-written, but rather long and ultimately boring novel.

The novel, originally published in 2002, could fit into the postmodern genre, albeit somewhat late, of biographies of insignificant and fictional people. Why, otherwise, would any reader be interested to read 276 pages of what appears to be the fictional biography of the widow of Jackson Pollock?

Part of the technical skill is that the time line within the novel describes events over the period of a day, a long interview which the widow of the painter has granted to a young female journalist. Touching on themes and events of the various decades of the Twentieth Century, the relation between the women changes from that of the journalist, at first perceived as intrusive and naive, to that of the widow enjoying the role of maternal initiator, in disclosing the story of her life. The novel could perhaps be read as an exploration of the question to what extent young people can bridge the generation gap and understand the life and motives of people from whose life experiences they are separated by more than one generation.

Seek my face is not recommended to readers who are new to the work of John Updike. ( )
1 vote edwinbcn | Jun 2, 2013 |
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"Let me begin by reading to you," says the young woman, her slender, black-clad figure tensely jackknifed on the edge of the easy chair, with its faded coarse plaid and broad arms of orangish varnished oak, which Hope first knew in the Germantown sunroom, her grandfather posed in it reading the newspaper, his head tilted back to gain the benefit of his thick biofocals, more than, yes seventy years ago, "a statement of yours from the catalogue of your last show, back in 1996."
Permita-me que comece lendo-lhe uma afirmação sua, retirada do catálogo da sua última exposição de 1996.
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Takes place in one day, a day that contains much conversation and some rain. The 78-year-old painter, Hope Chafetz, who in the course of her eventful life has been Hope Ouderkirk, Hope McCoy, and Hope Holloway, answers questions put to her by a New York interviewer, and recapitulates, through the story of her own career, the triumphant, poignant saga of postwar American art. In the evolving relation between the two, the interviewer and interviewee move in and out of the roles of daughter and mother, therapist and patient, predator and prey, supplicant and idol.

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Procurai a Minha Face é o retrato comovente de uma pintora cuja vida a tornou numa figura-chave na história da arte do pós-guerra americano. Uma artista respeitada, Hope Chafetz é também famosa por ser a mulher do lendário artista Zack McCoy, o estonteante Expressionista Abstracto cuja vida terminou com um acidente de automóvel. Num dia de Primavera em Vermont, uma pintora de setenta e nove anos Hope Chafetz conta a história da sua vida a Kathryn, uma jovem entrevistadora de Nova Iorque. As perguntas fazem com que Hope regresse à sua juventude, aos dias conturbados do pós-guerra da arte americana e aos seus relacionamentos com os artistas que marcaram os seus tempos. À medida que o tempo vai passando - entrevistadora e entrevistada - tentam compreender-se mutuamente através da diferença de idade, da experiência e do tempo que existe entre elas. E subtilmente, enquanto se vão conhecendo uma à outra, o seu relacionamento muda.
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