John Updike

10 Charming Fan Letters From Cultural Icons

Last night, as you’re well aware, the fourth season of Game of Thrones came to a close, and everyone went bananas. And perhaps, somewhere, some future literary superstar penned a fan letter to George R.R. Martin, telling him what an inspiration his work is. It’s not too much of a stretch — presumably in preparation for the finale, iO9 dug up that great fan letter that young Master Martin wrote to Marvel’s Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, raving over the greatness of a recent Fantastic Four issue. Such a missive is a blast to read now; it’s also but one example of the fine tradition of superstars who reveal themselves (either before their own fame or after it) to be super-fans. … Read More

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Writers Writing About Writers: 9 Great Books About Authors

If that massive New Yorker profile didn’t get you curious about Edward St. Aubyn’s latest novel (which did have its faults), then perhaps the notable selling point is that it’s about writers — their writerly lives as well as their hangups — and told in a way that will hold readers’ attention even if they aren’t writers themselves. That isn’t easy, as writers have tried more than a few times to clue readers in to the circles they run in, the lives they lead, and the people they know. The results, unfortunately, don’t always appeal to anybody but the writers themselves. In the case of these nine books, however, writers’ attempt to depict other writers, intellectuals, and in many cases themselves, worked out better than most. … Read More

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The Skeptic’s Guide to John Updike

What’s yr take on Updike? Misogynist? Genius? King of the WASPs? Guy you only know about because your parents had a few of his books on the shelf? Writer’s writer whose style you envy? Or is he a writer whose reputation has been unfairly maligned? This is the double-sided coin you flip when discussing Updike: he wrote beautifully, often flawlessly — but he’s also the prime example of post-war American white dudes whose work treats women like either like helpless idiots or, well, witches. But if you’re willing to read him simply for the craft, and can deal with the awkwardness of his outdated way of thinking, then you might really enjoy Updike. And if you already like his work, Adam Begley’s excellent new biography, Updike, will give you more insight into a writer you might still be conflicted about reading. … Read More

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Which Books Should We Stop Calling Classics?

Recently, at Salon, Laura Miller wondered what makes a book a classic, and who gets to say which books should be included in the conversation: do booksellers or online book communities like Goodreads get to make the call? Do critics? Should we consider David Foster Wallace’s work among these classics, even though it’s so recent? Does a canon even exist or matter? … Read More

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50 Sexy Books to Get You in the Mood (for Valentine’s Day)

As Valentine’s Day (not to mention yet another cold night) approaches, you may find yourself in the mood for love. But what if you don’t? Never fear, because all you have to do is pick up a book. Yes, reading is sexy — especially when you’re reading one of these books, which range from literary fiction (with, ahem, some notable scenes) to famously romantic plays to “highbrow academia porn” to real literary erotica.… Read More

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10 of the Best Holiday Books You Probably Haven’t Read

For many of us, December is the month of trotting out old classics: traditions, recipes, that one silver plate that’s been in the family for generations. Of course, it’s a time of classic holiday reading, too, so if you’re both the bookish and the celebratory type, A Christmas Carol, The Polar Express, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! are likely to be laying about, cookie crumbs mashed into the creases of your favorite pages, hot chocolate rings on the back. But what about the holiday books that don’t get quite as much love? This year, if you find you’ve gone over The Night Before Christmas one too many times, try swapping in one of these excellent and under-appreciated choices, which we bet only the jolliest among you will have… Read More

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2013’s Best Books to Give as Gifts

If you’ve got a coffee table or bank account big enough to collect all of them, 2013 was a pretty fine year for beautifully packaged books that were interesting reads, but could also make any room look smarter. For those of you who plan to give books as gifts this holiday season, we’ve collected some excellent options published within the past 12… Read More

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Classic Books Annotated by Famous Authors

Readers come in two editions: those who write in their books, and those who don’t. No matter which you are on your own time, there’s great pleasure to be found in paging through marked-up copies of other people’s books — particularly when the original owners were famous writers themselves. Whether scribbled or printed, snide or appreciative, an author’s annotations give equal insight into the book and the reader, and double as yet another reason to buy physical books. Click through to see the marginalia in the books of a few great… Read More

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25 Fascinating Photos of Famous Writers at Home

This week, we caught a glimpse of author Tao Lin’s Murray Hill apartment in this cheeky review over at Vice. Though somewhat alarmed at the squalor of Lin’s digs (seriously, can you blame us?), we found ourselves inspired to hunt down a few more shots of notable authors hanging out at home. After the jump, stop by and visit with everyone from Zora Neale Hurston to Paul Auster. Whose apartment would you most like to move into? Let us know in the comments. … Read More

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Writers Praising Writers: 15 of the Best Compliments from One Author to Another

We all know authors can insult one another with aplomb, but do those bitter wordsmiths ever have anything nice to say? Well, yes, of course. If we had to guess, we’d say that most authors’ biggest fans are other authors, who might understand a given piece of literature better than any mere mortal — or they might just be more likely to write about it. In the excellent collection Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story, which hit shelves last week, 20 famous writers choose and introduce the short stories from the periodical that moved and thrilled them. In honor of the book’s publication, we’ve put together a few of our favorite author-on-author compliments. Click through to spread the love, and if we’ve missed your favorite compliment, add to our list in the comments. … Read More

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