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Bech Is Back (Bech)

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  420 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
In this follow-up to Bech: A Book, Henry Bech, the priapic, peripatetic, and unproductive Jewish American novelist, returns with seven more chapters from his mock-heroic life. He turns fifty in a confusing blend of civic and erotic circumstances while publicizing himself in Australia and Canada. He marries a shiksa and travels with her to Israel, where she falls in love wi ...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Random House (first published 1982)
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Harold Griffin
This volume starts very slowly, with more of Bech's travels, annotated with much more detail than I cared to try to absorb. However, the tale picks up momentum about halfway through, when Bech and bride travel to Scotland ("MacBech"), and the ensuing long chapter/story "Bech Wed"
somewhat rewards a reader's perseverance.

In my view, Updike is unsuccessful in creating an authentically "Jewish" author-protagonist. Bech seems indistinguishable from many of Updike's non-Jewish personae. But ethnicity
Jun 18, 2015 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Updike brings his masterful writing to this sequel to "Bech: A Book" (which for me will have to serve as a "prequel", since I have not read "Bech: A Book" yet.) Written just after "Rabbit Is Rich", it doesn't have the scope or depth of "Rabbit", but it reads as though Updike had great fun writing it. ("Rabbit Is Rich" is one of my Desert Island books. It is one of the great books of the late 20th century, and joy to read and re-read.) The comic passages in "Bech Is Back" are terrific.
Henry Bech,
Timothy Ratliffe
One of his lighter works in a series concerning the fictional alter ego, Bech. I can only assume Bech is Jewish for Beck.

Well I read it and here is the update. I wrapped up John Updike’s “Bech is Back.” This one is considered to be a minor effort by him, but since I have not read any of his set-pieces I really would not know that myself.

This is a small book that seems to have been written at the rate of five pages a day with a good cup of coffee close at hand. As always I find the act of readin
Jun 03, 2010 Hollis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
In these stories Updike has some fictional fun with a character called Henry Bech: a successful Jewish-American novelist. Lots of funny lines and moments: one that sticks out is Bech's observation that Bea's languid teenage daughters are always reading 'fat novels of witchcraft and horror in Maine': a nice dig at Stephen King. And Stephenie Meyer, if you want a recent application: all that tosh. And of course they listen to hideous music that sounds like a washing machine breaking down.

Only prob
Black Heart
Jun 29, 2009 Black Heart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: updike
Oddly enough, this is the first book I've read by John Updike. I've never read any of his "Rabbit" series, nor have I read the Witches of Eastwick (nor seen the movie). I picked this one to start with mainly out of necessity: because it was the only Updike available at the Co-op Bookstore, where I prefer to buy my books!

Nevertheless, it was an interesting read, crisscrossing the globe, commenting on Canadians and Australians and Jews and Gentiles. It's the story of a writer, writing. And not wri
James F
A collection of stories originally published separately, but all dealing with the same character, Henry Bech, so that it works as a novel as well. Bech is a (fictitious) famous American Jewish author of the fifties and sixties, an anti-hero but not quite as unlikeable as Rabbit in the Rabbit Angstrom series. He is narcissistic, irresponsible, conservative, and generally a jerk, but he avoids responsibilities from the beginning rather than after they are obligations, as with Rabbit.

Unlike Updike
Feb 16, 2009 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bagatelle, ficciones
Irritatingly, this book's structure is identical to that of 'Bech: A Book.' Flimsy travel sketches in which Bech is just an excuse for the relation of rather jejune foreign impressions ("The Holy Land" is excruciating if you've read Bellow's "To Jerusalem and Back") give way, just as one's patience is about used up--is he playing chicken?--to Updike at his strongest. Bech is such an appealing character, his situation such a perfect platform for Updike's observative wit, that I hope I open "Bech ...more
Sep 29, 2015 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked Updike’s earlier “Bech: A Book”. This one was different and in its own way better. Unlike the first book, which was a series of adventures in the world tour of the famous un-prolific writer, this short book mostly sees Bech settled into married life, though still world travelling. And with his wife’s coaxing he’s writing and publishing with some success. It’s these descriptions of Bech I found the most fascinating – Bech the continually blocked author, with intervening periods of self-de ...more
Jul 25, 2016 Justinmmoffitt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having picked up "The Complete Henry Bech", I was expecting a more compelling series of novels. However, one can only read so much of Bech's womanizing before getting bored. I have to review this book as it's own entity, and therefore give it high praise. I'm going to need to take a breath from the world of Henry Bech. If I were to continue I feel as if I'd drown. John Updike created a world with brilliant sentences but monotonous story-telling.
Chris Marquette
May 14, 2013 Chris Marquette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been really enjoying the Bech stories (in this and in Bech: A Book) - they're funny, entertainingly vulgar, extremely poignant and well-crafted. Updike's stories are always at least one of these things, even when their concerns seem trivial or everyday. As a result, I rarely had the impression that a story didn't 'succeed'. Looking forward to more Bech and more Updike.
Todd Thompson
More travel and escapades from Updike's alterego, Henry Bech, these stories offer more than I ever wanted to know about the literary life. As a fan of Updike, I would rank these stories in the bottom third of his books, however, with the caveat that his literary genius is still very much on display.
James F
This is the sequel to Bech: A Book, written about ten years later; like the earlier book, it is composed of originally separate stories, although about forty percent of the book is a single story. It follows the life of the protagonist into the seventies, and is about the same sort of book as the earlier one; I liked this one a little better, I'm not quite sure why.
Aug 19, 2011 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Bech is Back, Updike offers us entertaining glimpses into the fictitious life of a famously unprolific author who decides to settle down in his later years. He does so, but only long enough to write his best seller. A front seat view into the dichotomy between reality and the writer's inner life.
Dec 18, 2014 Grant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite as good as the first Bech book, but still good, just because I like the way Updike views the world and is able to articulate his thoughts and opinions through his writing. His mind is fun, to me.
Jan 25, 2011 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of these stories go nowhere, but three of them -- "Bech Wed," which is the longest, "Three Illuminations" and "White on White" -- are totally fantastic.
Oct 10, 2014 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Bech books are good for a chuckle and this one is no exception. "Bech Wed" is a fine story. The rest of these stories are at least entertaining, if lightweight.
beck is just as clueless as in the first novel, as he unthinkingly wanders into various sorts of trouble and successfully avoids growing up.
Feb 28, 2016 Landjonker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice, although the proceeding of the story was sometimes somewhat confusing (to me atleast). Nevertheless an enjoyable read with very fine details.
I never read the first Bech book but it is not necessary in order to read what is essentially a collection of short stories. Very much reminded me of the Nathan Zuckerman books from Roth.
Jun 15, 2016 D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, comedy
Probably a bit better than the first one, with longer story lines. Looking forward to the final book in the series.
Found this cleaning out my shelves - I remember reading it but not what I thought of it. Noted for the sake of completeness.
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May 26, 2012
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Barry Hill rated it really liked it
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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
More about John Updike...

Other Books in the Series

Bech (7 books)
  • Bech: A Book
  • The Complete Henry Bech
  • Bech at Bay
  • Basic Bech: Bech a Book, Bech is Back
  • Bech at Bay and Before: Three Bech Novels
  • Bech: His Oeuvre

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