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Higher Gossip: Essays and Criticism

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  72 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Here is the collection of nonfiction pieces that John Updike was compiling when he died in January 2009. It opens with a self-portrait of the writer in winter, a Prospero who, though he fears his most dazzling performances are behind him, reveals himself in every sentence to be in deep conversation with the sources of his magic. It concludes with a moving meditation on a w ...more
ebook, 528 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Random House (first published January 1st 2011)
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Feb 09, 2012 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
This is the seventh such collection of short pieces by John Updike; it was assembled after his death by Christoper Carduff, on the invitation of Updike's widow (who is also his literary executor). According to his introduction, Cardiff tried to follow the structure that Updike himself had imposed on the previous six collections; the pieces are organized into five main categories. These are

Real Conversation (stories and poems not included in previous collections, ~ 50 pages)
Book Chat (book review
James Murphy
Higher Gossip is the latest collection of essays and occasional prose by John Updike. A posthumous publication--he died in 2009--it contains some work which I think was written some time ago and has been included here, perhaps the final compilation of his shorter criticism. Like earlier volumes, there are essays written for various publications, some forwards or afterwords written for new editions of books, a few poems, and a few book reviews. Under a heading of "Pet Topics" are brief essays on ...more
David Penhale
Nov 23, 2011 David Penhale rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For those of us who were saddened by John Updike's passing in January, 2009, this final collection of his writing comes as some consolation. Among its many pleasures, Higher Gossip gives us a handful of previously uncollected stories and poems. Updike worked as a reporter early in his career, filing Talk of the Town pieces for the New Yorker, and in the poem "Cafeteria, Mass. General Hospital" he is still on the beat, still telling us what it is like out there. For Updike, "out there" takes in t ...more
Dec 06, 2011 jordan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are among the legions who paused in January 2009 to mourn John Updike passing, then //Higher Gossip// a posthumous collection of essays, reviews, poems, and other writings, will make you cry all over again. While the title refers to an Updike quote regarding book reviews, this volume demonstrates that being one of America's greatest post-war novelists and short story writers was only part of his great talents. Indeed, when Updike died America lost one of its great – and most prolific – pu ...more
Howard Cincotta
This is Updike’s valedictory collection of criticism, essays, introductions, New Yorker-style “casuals” – or as he titled his first nonfiction collection in the 1960’s, Picked-Up Pieces. Wherever found, these pieces are gems.

While Updike is justly celebrated for his sensuous prose, he would be little more than an interesting mannerist writer – a Truman Capote, perhaps, or Paul Auster – if the engine of his prose weren’t coupled to one of the most remarkably incisive and ecumenical literary intel
Raimo Wirkkala
This may or may not be the "final" collection of Updike's essays and criticism but it is certainly not the best such collection. It begins strongly, and poignantly, with "The Writer In Winter" but, thereafter, while interesting, the material is not classic Updike. The few book reviews, in particular, were rather ordinary and Updike was no ordinary reviewer of books. Certainly worth reading for any Updike fan but you may be disappointed.
Richard Alther
I dip into and out of this big collection of essays, for a hit of Updikean prose, so unique. But my interest can flag when his subject is of little consequence (even though the writing is elegant), as if he simply had to jot something down whatever it was...his way of life. But hardly the jolt of a novel.
Sep 30, 2012 Victoria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this books in parts. Updike direct us readers to the best of literature and music. The entry on Cole Porter's lyrics is witty, casual and intelligent. He easily streams between writing about Kierkegaard, Fitzgerald to Hemingway and Vonnegut.
Feb 19, 2012 Matthew marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
What an apt title for a collection of non-fiction writing. Delicious, self-mocking, world-mocking, ironic.
Dmitry Veselov
When it's good it is really good. Unfortunately that's about 20 pages.
Sam Baber
Sep 29, 2012 Sam Baber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
always a pleasure (at least it has been for me) to read Updike's non-fiction
Jun 19, 2012 Bethj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Part of the book was humorous, part of it so very sad; all of it enlightening.
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John Hoyer Updike 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 his careful craftsmanship and prolific writing, havin ...more
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