Paperbacks: Higher Gossip, By John Updike


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The Independent Culture

Only whisper it, but some of us prefer John Updike's essays to his dissections of suburbia.

This engaging haul displays his wit and dizzying range from Cole Porter ("love is wry, jokey, casual and even weary, but nonetheless ecstatic: you're Mickey Mouse") to lost golf balls ("Goose feathers and dandelion polls and balled up Kleenex cruelly tease"). He could focus on Max Factor as keenly as John Le Carré but was notably acute on art. "There is a benign grandeur in [Magritte] and its surprises have the surprising effect of making the viewer feel good."