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Words: motile, adj.

FRANK KERMODE, in the London Review of Books, has caught up with Bech at Bay by John Updike, whom he calls "alive, fertile and motile". One might think this a hangover from Kermode's structuralist phase, but it is a zoological term - able to move; presumably that is Kermode's sense rather than the psychological one - somebody who reacts to motor imagery rather than auditory or visual. Updike is the supreme chronicler of sight and sound, a dextrous vocabulary to hand.

Kermode surmises that this is the last of Bech, "the funhouse distortion of his inventor", but, no! the latest issue of the New Yorker has a new story with such phrases as "her livid nipples" and "toward dawn there was a prolonged bright ruckus that must have been Buffalo".