Saturday, January 31, 2009

Updike's Rules

The death of John Updike last Tuesday was a blow to readers of every stripe. Though he gained critical acclaim for works about suburban angst, he also showed a versatility that’s rare for the literary set, dabbling with fantasy (The Witches of Eastwick and The Widows of Eastwick), thrillers (Terrorist), and crime fiction (“Bech Noir”). He had much to say about his craft, and his rules about how to review a book fairly are just as useful today as when he published them in 1975’s Picked-Up Pieces. They include carefully noting an author’s intent, avoiding plot summary, and refusing to let personal ideology or opinions about the author’s life color your conclusions. Critical Mass, the blog of the National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors, has reproduced the rules in their entirety. Worthwhile tips, no matter which side of the page you may find yourself on.

(Picture: CC 2008 by
litherland; Hat Tip: Between Two Worlds)

1 comment:

Loren Eaton said...

For a humorous interlude, read the comments at the bottom of the NBCC post on Updike's "controversial" use of the gender-neutral "he." And people wonder my genre outstrips the literary stuff in sales time after time after time.