From the Publisher
"A deft poke at what it means to be a writer in America." —New York Times
"In his extraordinarily productive career, John Updike has given us a multitude of memorable characters, but none more lovable than the high-minded, mild-mannered, rather hapless writer Henry Bech." —Chicago Tribune
"One of Updike’s best creations." —Life
"Bech is Updike’s alter ego, a mouthpiece for Updike’s often sarcastic, even caustic insight into writers and the writing life … [His] style is never more jubilantly elaborate than in a Bech book, and his intelligence never more provocatively displayed." —Booklist
"As imaginative territory, literary Manhattan has proved irresistible to Updike the satirist, and he has done it full justice and then some in his volumes of stories concerning the doings of New York novelist Henry Bech." —The New Criterion
"A mordantly comic look at literary life." —TIME
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Never as big as Rabbit, but a genial antihero in his own right, Henry Bech is John Updike's fictional alter ego, a Jewish writer with a weakness for women and literary awards. Now, three bestselling collections of Bech stories are gathered in one volume, under the title The Complete Henry Bech. Book-ended with a helpful introduction by Malcolm Bradbury and a new story, "His Oeuvre," the hefty Everyman's Library compendium is a monument to Updike's lighter moments. ( Mar. 27) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Tales of John Updike's playful alter ago began appearing over thirty years ago in The New Yorker: in The Complete Henry Bech they have been gathered under one cover for the first time, providing a complete and unified set of vignettes and stories about Bech, a man who is a cynical, yet spry, globetrotter filled with observations about the world. An excellent collection.
An attractive summary volume brings together the contents of Updike's three earlier collections of tales about the literary and amorous exploits and embarrassments of his "other" alter ego (the obverse of Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom): the unproductive, easily distracted American-Jewish novelist (and improbably Nobel laureate) Henry Bech. It's prefaced by fellow novelist-critic Malcolm Bradbury's incisive Introduction, and ends with the previously uncollected "His Oeuvre," a story depicting the elderly Bech on a reading tour during which he reencounters and/or remembers the parade of lovers who, he now realizes, "were . . . [his] masterpieces." It's a curious, though not inappropriate coda to a richly amusing extended work that surveys the contemporary American literary landscape with piercing wit. A goldmine for future Updike scholars.