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Bech: A Book Hardcover – October 12, 1970


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Distribution Services; First Edition edition (October 12, 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0233962700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0233962702
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,458,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“[John] Updike’s most delightful book . . . Truly entertaining.”—Harper’s
 
“Updike has written his most appealing [work].”—The Boston Sunday Globe
 
Bech succeeds marvelously. . . . One falls into the book and through it and out the other side of it as effortlessly as one might slide through a polished aluminum table in a funhouse. . . . A deft poke at what it means to be a writer in America.”—The New York Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

6 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker, and since 1957 lived in Massachusetts. He was the father of four children and the author of more than fifty books, including collections of short stories, poems, essays, and criticism. His novels won the Pulitzer Prize (twice), the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells Medal. A previous collection of essays, Hugging the Shore, received the 1983 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. John Updike died on January 27, 2009, at the age of 76.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
I'm a little disappointed by the poor reviews below. This is classified as one of Updike's short stories (check out his list of publications in the front) and as such is not a serious novel. I have read plenty of his other works and no, this does not have the character depth or serious plot of the Rabbit series or his other books. It is what it is: a very funny collection of stories about Henry Bech, an overweight 50'ish Jewish writer (there's some very good Jewish humor sprinkled throughout) currently suffering from writer's block. He travels throughout the book; each chapter to a different place (The Soviet Union, the New England beach, a women's college in the Southern USA). Women find Bech fascinating and he seduces several during the story (leading to some very funny scenes). There's several Updike themes I found in his other books that make their way into "Bech", but they are written to be humorous rather than serious (wife/mistress swapping, recreational drug use, worries about death/old age). Updike's prose, as usual, is unbelieveably well written and makes the book worth reading by itself. My advice is, try this book, don't take it seriously, and have a good laugh. You may not want this to be your first Updike book; if you've never read him before I'd suggest starting with "Rabbit, Run" and working your way through that 4-book series.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By IRA Ross on April 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
While reading Updike's novel (the "short stories" contained within are in reality semi-connected chapters in Henry Bech's literary life) I could not help thinking about the some of the best serio-comic films of Woody Allen. Like Mr. Allen's films, the book presents the angst, self-doubt, and insecurities of a Jewish writer in an often humorous manner. In Henry Bech's case, his continuing fame rests largely on the popularity of his first novel. His literary output since then contains an experimental second novel, a critically bashed third novel (whose title is often confused with the work of another more consistently successful American Jewish novelist), and miscellaneous essays and poems. What happens next when the creative juices fail to flow, you are starting to drink too much, and you are close to fifty and may be nearing a self-perceived death? Are you reduced to having a series of aborted interviews with an intrusive British reporter in which you say very little, but are neverless reduced to a figure of gossip and derision in thereporter's ensuing article. I felt myself laughing, while suffering along with Bech, in his tenuous affairs with women, and in his "less than heady" experiment with marijuana with a 1960's college-type, who Bech suspects has run off to tryst with his then-mistress. We follow Bech travelling at the behest of his publisher to several Soviet bloc countries where Bech experiences a series of comedies of errors, annoyances, and misunderstandings on his and his hosts' side. A highly recommended book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
Bech: A Book was a great group of stories.Updike mixes humor with highly emotional moments and philosophical ones. I'm looking forward to reading all his other Bech stories. I can't imagine anything Updike writing being a bore.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eric Maroney on September 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
Bech, A Book, is both entertaining and serious, elevated and dirty, a satire and yet a pointed, realistic look at the life of a writer. I suppose this novel, like much of Updike's work (that I have read) is plagued by these contractions. Few writers of his generation could produce sentences with such gorgeous clarity as Updike; his similes are without compare. But when you look at the whole, when you stretch back from his pungent observations, you realize that behind that gorgeous language, those detailed details, there is little that holds the book together. There are no `big ideas' to support the lattice work of language, and here is where Bech, A Book, fails.

On another level, the novel suffers from a serious time warp. Bech is able to support himself as a writer even though his output is low, and his fame was achieved long ago. Yet in Bech, A Book he makes a fine living which most writers today would find envious. Bech has the luxury to waste time, in an era when time went slower. When a writer reads Bech, A Book, he or she may wonder, what exactly is Bech whining about?

YET, the book has considerable merit. Updike earned his keep, writing a great deal, and Bech, his Jewish alter ego, keeps you wanting to turn the page. I always claim that is the dead-end-last marker of a book's worth. Should you turn the page? Yes, you should.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eugene G. Barnes on September 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
Having read the well-crafted and interestingly expressed story in Bech's own voice in the latest collection of short stories, "Licks of Love", it made me want to go all the back to the original collection of Bech stories. Unfortunately, they're all told in the third person and so aren't nearly as charming. And the experiences of Bech in Communist Europe have little resonance to our time and are not terribly profound. Perhaps the later Bech output is better. This one though is a disappointment. Three stars, of course, because Updike can only be so bad...
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