Monthly Archives: March 2012


If you’ve been feeling unnecessarily buoyed or heartened by our last review – which revelled in As You Like It‘s frivolity, silliness and general high jinks – I’ve got the perfect antidote for you. Postcard review #2 is in, and with it we are dragged back to earth with a resounding bump. 

The childlike, almost eerie cover illustration is brilliantly designed by Milton Glaser – the very same man who designed that ubiquitous 'I heart NY' logo. Does its simplicity sit uncomfortably with the dark and complex subject matter of the pages behind it? (The book cover, that is, not the NY logo.)

'Bleak' doesn't even cover it

'Updike’s novel is divided perfectly between the beauty of its prose and the ugliness of its content. The language – always present tense – is poetic, peaceful, transcendent. The depiction of working-class life is brutal, hopeless and terrifyingly real. Abandonment, alcoholism, abuse, tragedy and hopeless dependency allow no room for redemption or hope, which are continually dashed by human frailty. I wish I could read more Updike for his beautiful words but I cannot face his bleak reality.' Nicholas Price, London 17/03/2012

So there it is, laid bare for the world. And maybe it does have something in common with our previous review after all – a recognition of the author’s mastery of language – so beautiful that it gilds even the ugliest of sentiments, whether it’s Rabbit’s brutality in Updike’s classic, or, say, Iago’s moral bankruptcy in Shakespeare’s Othello

So, does the review make me love the book? No.

But does it make me want to read it? Well, yes, it sort of does. Devastating or no, how can one doubt the power of a narrative than provokes such a visceral response?

But what do you think? Have you read it, and do you agree with the review? Will you be picking up a copy?  

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