Wednesday, April 09, 2014

At Harvard, Updike’s freshman roommate was Christopher Lasch, who would become the author of “The Culture of Narcissism” (1979). It was a competitive, uneasy friendship. At Harvard, Updike met his first wife, Mary Pennington, to whom he would remain married for more than 20 years. It was their social set in Ipswich, Mass. — the cocktails, the games, the gamboling adultery — that he would describe so lovingly and so wickedly, deploying the full sensorium of his prose, in “Couples” (1968) and in so many short stories.

That Updike had affairs, sometimes with his friends’ wives, is not news. “I drank up women’s tears and spat them out,” he declared in one late poem, “as 10-point Janson, Roman and ital.” Mr. Begley charts some of the details while naming few names, in order, he says, to respect privacy and promote candor.

“It was a matter of certain pride to be sleeping with John,” one friend comments. Mr. Begley suggests that Mary might have been the first in their marriage to have an affair. “Welcome to the post-pill paradise,” he wrote in “Couples....”

Read it all.

No comments: