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Seek My Face Hardcover – November 12, 2002
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Seek My Face draws on the story of Lee Miller and Jackson Pollock, the model for Hope's first husband. These are the best parts of a slow, sumptuous, and intricately detailed novel that lacks any significant action except in retrospect. Hope's second husband is depicted as an amalgam of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, and Wayne Thiebaud--a useful survey of the period, but not compelling characterization. One can sense the author folding in important art-historical points and details toward the end, like last-minute ingredients in a cake that may be too heavy to rise. Readers who stay with Hope and Kathryn through the day, however, will be rewarded with a gorgeous, resonant, and almost antimodern ending. --Regina Marler
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
This 20th novel is less a plot driving story and more a ramble through 20th century art, both fictional and real. The observations on art are, as far as I know (not being an art scholar), insightful, and Updike does a good job weaving the "artistic" in with the "mundane" of the pricipal narrator's existence.
Unfortunately Updike does not write well from a woman's perspective. There are cracks in the way the characters think and interact that reveal a male writer. The main character, an artist in her late 70s, rambles on about how quaint things were in the old days and then suddenly seems completely comfortable with a modern sexual vocabulary (would we expect anything less from Updike?); this grates because there is little indication, up to that point, that the character is anything but a vehicle for nostalgia.
That being said, Updike remains an insightful observer of contemporary life, and, just when you think he's used one modern cliche too many, he comes out with a simple observation that also becomes thought provoking: "What isn't Zen in feeling, looked at blankly?"
Updike has aged right along with the characters in his books, and this book, like "Toward the End of Time" and several of his most recent short stories, show someone who, while not entirely comfortable with growing old, is starting to come to terms with it.
Anyone who is a fan of Updike's work should appreciate this book -- those not familiar with Updike's work would be wise to start elsewhere. Fans of Jackson Pollock might also want to take a look at it to see how he has incorporated the Naifeh biography of Pollock into his narrative.
I thought Seek My Face was going to be one of those novels. From the beginning, Updike eschews plot in favor of description, which, if I'm not in the mindset for concentration, often enables my mind to wander until I realize as I'm turning the page that I have no idea what I just "read."
The story takes place in one day during an interview between a journalist named Kathryn and painter (and, more importantly to this book, painter's wife) Hope Chafetz. Kathryn is ostensibly writing an article on Hope's work, but the talk begins to steer to Hope's first husband, Zack McCoy (an unapologetically fictionalized Jackson Pollack, according to the acknowledgments page) and their relationship.
This is Updike's twentieth novel in a career of fifty books, and in that time an author becomes confident in his style. Enough so, apparently, to feel comfortable jettisoning what most people would consider to be the rules. As a part-time copy editor, there were entire passages that I would have cut out and Updike feels no compunctions about stopping a piece of dialogue mid-sentence to launch into a paragraph-long reminiscence. This is particularly upsetting at the beginning of Seek My Face, when a reader just getting into a new novel needs to be coddled a bit, led in gently to the narrative, held by the hand, so to speak. Updike, however, feels no such duty.
This is not to say that the book is not a great read.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very disappointed. His earlier novels were far better.
Would not recommend to anyone who already knows and likes his work!!
Dear readers, Lee Krasner was married to Jackson Pollock. Lee Miller was someone else entirely. Reviews that repeat this inaccuracy do a disservice to all three artists, as well as... Read morePublished on January 21, 2014 by Lewis Desoto
In the beginning the sentence construction poses a challenge...after a while one gets into the different rhythm of writing. Read morePublished on July 17, 2013 by Ansie7*
This is an exceptional novel: a remarkable achievement, and a loving homage to the American art of the author's time. Read morePublished on December 22, 2012 by Christopher H
I listened to the audio book which was clearly and crisply read. It made several boring drives enjoyable. Read morePublished on January 7, 2012 by Stephen Schwartz
The blurb on the back of this edition describes the book as "the triumphant story of postwar American art. Read morePublished on December 12, 2011 by Ash Ryan
The ridiculous run - on sentences aren't nearly the worst part of this book.
It's all plot. No climax, no resolution. Read more
In this, John Updike's twentieth novel, he uses the same time frame as his first, "The Poorhouse Fair" (1959). Read morePublished on February 24, 2011 by Tom Bruce
Good novel based on Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock.
Please people, that's Pollock, OK? not Pollack.