Since tales of his exploits began appearing in The New Yorker more than thirty years ago, Henry Bech, John Updike’s playfully irreverent alter-ego, has charmed readers with his aesthetic dithering and his seemingly inexhaustible libido. The Bech stories—collected in one volume for the first time, and featuring a final, series-capping story, “His Oeuvre”—cast an affectionate eye on the famously unproductive Jewish-American writer, offering up a stream of wit, whimsy, and lyric pungency unmatched in American letters.
From his birth in 1923 to his belated paternity and public apotheosis as a spry septuagenarian in 1999, Bech plugs away, globetrotting in the company of foreign dignitaries one day and schlepping in tattered tweeds on the college lecture circuit the next. By turns cynical and naïve, wry and avuncular, and always amorous, he is Updike’s most endearing confection—a Lothario, a curmudgeon, and a winsome literary icon all in one. A perfect forum for Updike’s limber prose, The Complete Henry Bech is an arch portrait of the literary life in America from an incomparable American writer.
JOHN UPDIKE is the author of more than sixty books, eight of them collections of poetry. His novels won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle, and the William Dean Howells Medal of the American… More about John Updike
"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