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Due Considerations: Essays and Criticism by…
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Due Considerations: Essays and Criticism (2007)

by John Updike

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This is the sixth (and final?) collection of John Updike's essays, occasional pieces, book reviews, and introductions. His writing is elegant and precise. The essays and tributes are thoughtful and personal. I found most of the introductions inscrutable, offering nearly random details about the authors' lives, usually without offering much insight on how to approach a work, or a sense of its historical importance. The book reviews -- in particular of fiction -- implicitly measure books against the kind of writing at which Updike excelled: striking descriptions of the sensations of daily life. It's not that Updike can't appreciate other styles of writing (say, for example, using highly abstract or figurative language); but he either can't or won't bring himself to shower praise on them. After sounding increasingly dissatisfied, many of the reviews then close on an incongruous upbeat note. The collection is worth dipping into for the sheer quality of the writing, but it also helps explain why Updike is venerated first as an author of fiction and poetry, rather than as a literary critic. ( )
  bezoar44 | Oct 17, 2011 |
Updike's reading has a staggering range. He is comfortable just about anywhere. Literary Biography. American Fiction. English Fiction. Non-Fiction. Art. Personal Considerations. Here is the epigraph to the Preface:
What terrifies me now . . . is the whole question of catching & meeting & proceeding with the least tension (or emotion!) along docks, railway platforms, ups or downs of any kind where being DUE at some moment plays a part.

Updike starts the Preface:
Bills come due; dues must be paid. After 8 years, I was due for another collection of non-fictional prose. I had hoped that, thanks to the dwindling powers of old age, the bulk would be considerably smaller than that of the two previous assemblages ODD JOBS (1991) and MORE MATTER (1999). My hope, as I sorted and rooted through my deposits of old tearsheets and typescripts ("hard copies," we call them now), was slowly dashed. There was less, but not significantly less. There was no escaping the accumulated weight of my daily exertions.
Updike's daily exertions can hardly be fathomed by we LTers. ( )
  Porius | May 24, 2010 |
Give Updike his Due Consideration

If your a regular reader of "The New Yorker" magazine, than you'll not only enjoy this collection of John Updike essays, but you'll cherish its place on your bookshelf.

As a Canadian, I especially enjoyed Updike's reviews of Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro. But I was enjoyed reading about Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and E.L. Doctorow's "Ragtime" among others. Updike writes with such clarity and common sense, he is a man of clear conscience with a strong moral conviction. Updike is a true gem in the literary world.

I cannot find a single reason to not recommend "Due Considerations". ( )
  bruchu | Aug 19, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307266400, Hardcover)

John Updike’s sixth collection of essays and literary criticism opens with a skeptical overview of literary biographies, proceeds to five essays on topics ranging from China and small change to faith and late works, and takes up, under the heading “General Considerations,” books, poker, cars, and the American libido. The last, informal section of Due Considerations assembles more or less autobiographical pieces—reminiscences, friendly forewords, comments on the author’s own recent works, responses to probing questions.

In between, many books are considered, some in introductions—to such classics as Walden, The Portrait of a Lady, and The Mabinogion—and many more in reviews, usually for The New Yorker. Ralph Waldo Emerson and the five Biblical books of Moses come in for appraisal, along with Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Wizard of Oz. Contemporary American and English writers—Colson Whitehead, E. L. Doctorow, Don DeLillo, Norman Rush, William Trevor, A. S. Byatt, Muriel Spark, Ian McEwan—receive attentive and appreciative reviews, as do Rohinton Mistry, Salman Rushdie, Peter Carey, Margaret Atwood, Gabriel García Márquez, Haruki Murakami, Günter Grass, and Orhan Pamuk. In factual waters, Mr. Updike ponders the sinking of the Lusitania and the “unsinkable career” of Coco Chanel, the adventures of Lord Byron and Iris Murdoch, the sexual revolution and the advent of female Biblical scholars, and biographies of Robert Frost, Sinclair Lewis, Marcel Proust, and Søren Kierkegaard.

Reading Due Considerations is like taking a cruise that calls at many ports with a witty, sensitive, and articulate guide aboard—a voyage not to be missed.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:07 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

John Updike's sixth collection of essays and literary criticism opens with a skeptical overview of literary biographies, proceeds to five essays on topics ranging from China and small change to faith and late works, and takes up, under the heading "General Considerations," books, poker, cars, and the American libido. The last, informal section of Due Considerations assembles more or less autobiographical pieces--reminiscences, friendly forewords, comments on the author's own recent works, responses to probing questions. In between, many books are considered, some in introductions--to such classics as Walden, The Portrait of a Lady, and The Mabinogion--and many more in reviews, usually for The New Yorker. Ralph Waldo Emerson and the five Biblical books of Moses come in for appraisal, along with Uncle Tom's Cabin and The Wizard of Oz. Contemporary American and English writers--Colson Whitehead, E. L. Doctorow, Don DeLillo, Norman Rush, William Trevor, A. S. Byatt, Muriel Spark, Ian McEwan--receive attentive and appreciative reviews, as do Rohinton Mistry, Salman Rushdie, Peter Carey, Margaret Atwood, Gabriel García Márquez, Haruki Murakami, Günter Grass, and Orhan Pamuk. In factual waters, Mr. Updike ponders the sinking of the Lusitania and the "unsinkable career" of Coco Chanel, the adventures of Lord Byron and Iris Murdoch, the sexual revolution and the advent of female Biblical scholars, and biographies of Robert Frost, Sinclair Lewis, Marcel Proust, and Søren Kierkegaard.--From publisher's description.… (more)

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