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Bech at Bay

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  229 ratings  ·  17 reviews
In this, the final volume in John Updike’s mock-heroic trilogy about the Jewish American writer Henry Bech, our hero is older but scarcely wiser. Now in his seventies, he remains competitive, lecherous, and self-absorbed, lost in a brave new literary world where his books are hyped by Swiss-owned conglomerates, showcased in chain stores attached to espresso bars, and retur...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 5th 1999 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published October 13th 1998)
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Harold Griffin
"Bech at Bay" is the last of Updike's Bech trilogy, tales of the life of his libidinous "Jewish" author-persona.

After three books, I still have not accepted Bech as a genuine, successfully-realized literary character, much less an authentic Jewish author. I'm still not sure why Updike chose to emphasize this character's Jewishness or supposed New York origins, except possibly to distance him from Updike's own persona, or out of envy of the New York Jewish intelligentsia.

That said, "Bech at Bay"...more
Eric
By far the best of the three Bech books. The seemingly obligatory travel sketch is mercifully short, and the rest of the book is amazing. It's been a long time since a book made me laugh this hard. Bech becomes president of an American Academy of Arts & Letters-like organization, where he presides over the bickerings of perfectly-rendered satirical portaits of senile eminence; is sued for libel by, and during the trial nurses a filial love for, an aging Hollywood mogul; murders (or induces t...more
Ron Charles
"Bech at Bay," Updike's third Bech book, contains five crisp short stories about the anxieties and desires of Henry Bech, the "moderately well-known Jewish American writer." Updike is as smart and witty here as ever.

In the first story, Bech travels to Communist Czechoslovakia to escape his collapsed personal life and deliver a lecture on "American Optimism." Showered with extravagant praise from Czech writers who have suffered torture and imprisonment, he's overwhelmed by the superficiality of h...more
S.
years before N-dubz declared beef wit enyc and 50 took on Cali sparking the West Coast-East Coast feud, the American literary world saw the battle of the new realists and the characterizers, viz. Tom Wolfe, Don DeLillo, Philip Roth, and this author, John UpDike, battling out their feuds, with perhaps Thomas Pynchon, Norman Mailer, and Truman Capote all forming shifting alliances, schools of thought, cliques of support and what not.

well, the 15 reviews that this Updike book has received more or l...more
Owen
I suffered through this book solely to feel justified in writing a scathing review. why do creepy old writers give us characters that are creepy old writers who are incredible sexually successful in spite of age, looks, charm and paunch? Do they think we want to read about this? I found Bech to be my second lowest rated protagonist, barely squeezing by Leopold Bloom, the public masturbating flashing Loyalist in Dublin (which may something of my character because by the end Bech is a serial kille...more
Tom
Through Henry Bech,Updike is able to say and do the things our inner, secretive selves would love to accomplish. This a a wonderfully therapeutic romp through life.
Andrés
This "Quasi-Novel" lacks two crucial ingredients of a good book: interesting characters and an interesting plot. Very very rarely was anything worth reading, which was disappointing since Updike has such a reputation. Whole sections seem like nothing more than name-dropping, not writing. And the chapter "Bech Noir" is disturbing, pointless, and flagrantly unfunny, all at the same time. Thankfully, the book is quite short.
Kate
This won me over at last. Henry Bech is not the sort of person I would like to hang out with, but he becomes charming in spite of himself. The book ends stronger than it begins; I enjoyed "Bech Noir" very much, and only a curmudgeon would fail to be moved by the final story in the collection. Updike's genius is that he always manages to redeem his characters by portraying them in all their flawed humanity.
Frank
hilarious account where beck, now an old man, gets vicarious revenge for john updike by a) killing off his reviewers, b) inheriting a fortune, c) yielding to the importunities of a young assistant to impregnate her, and, best of all, d) winning the nobel prize by default

for readers who have read all the way through the beck series, this novel makes it all worthwhile.
Dan
The first Updike I read, and I was hooked. The writing is very polished (it's a story supposedly told by a writer), and it's hilarious. Basically it's an account of how a successful author deals with becoming old and ultimately obsolete. He has a few tricks up his sleeve, and they're shocking and surprising.
Mike
"That a negative review might be a fallible verdict, delivered in haste, against a deadline, for a few dollars, by a writer with problems and limitations of his own was a reasonable and weaseling supposition he could no longer, in the dignity of his years, entertain."

Love that bit.
Sandra
Antihero, and Updike's alter-ego; Bech is apathetically Jewish, a bachelor (later a husband and stepfather for a time, and finally a father in old age), and famously unprolific.
Lynne Swadel
I had not read any John Updike since I was a young adult. Reading it for book club and reminded why he is such a prolific and well-read author, recommend it.
Marvin
The Bech books are among the least memorable of Updike's novels, but still make for enjoyable reading.
Olivia
Was on my way to Tolstoi but fell in love with Updike instead.
Shreyas
its tough getting through - at least the first 100 pages
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John Hoyer Updike (born March 18, 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania) was an American writer. Updike's most famous work is his Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and Rabbit Remembered). Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest both won Pulitzer Prizes for Updike. Describing his subject as "the American small town, Protestant middle class," Updike is well known for hi...more
More about John Updike...
Rabbit, Run (Rabbit Angstrom, #1) Rabbit at Rest (Rabbit Angstrom, #4) Rabbit Is Rich (Rabbit Angstrom, #3) Rabbit Redux (Rabbit Angstrom, #2) The Witches of Eastwick (Eastwick, #1)

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