You almost want to say aloud
There's a small industry in the book review business consisting singularly in reviews slating John Updike. I've never read Updike, but I've enjoyed reading and re-reading David Foster Wallace's essay "John Updike, Champion Literary Phallocrat, Drops One; Is This Finally the End for Magnificent Narcissists?". In this micro-genre comes the quote of the day for today, which consists in the entire review just published by Tom Chiarella, in Esquire, of Updike's latest book:
What's interesting about reading a John Updike book is that every word, every scene, every vaguely misogynistic simile used to describe the unending daisy chain of oddly singular suburban fuck buddies, every pastoral snatch of, well, pastoral snatch, when told through the angry orange sunset of Updike's unflagging prose, reminds you of only what you are doing at that very moment. One sex scene roiling into the next, you almost want to say aloud, "I am reading a John Updike novel!"
So it is with Villages, which follows the life arc of Owen Mackenzie across the familiar landscape of Updike's increasingly formless New England suburbanry. The details of Mackenzie's work, the topography of a nation through which he moves, feel as if Updike's doing a flyby over the latter half of a century that one suspects has disappointed him. As always, with no room to like Mackenzie or even much care about him, it's all about Updike and not at all about the characters who people his book. But of course, you don't read Updike for the characters. You read him for the pleasure of his constant and peculiar ability to narrate one sexual congress on the heels of the last, each with the admirable muscularity of a chef wielding a knife. And in this rampant energy, Villages does not disappoint, so that Mackenzie, his trusty cock growing and shrinking like some exotic zoo animal, fucks his way across the decades, a grumpy, pussy-soaked picaro. In everything he does, he asserts what he is, Updike's own creation, recognizable and true.
Evidently it is not quite Finally the End for Magnificent Narcissists…