This novel is a true masterpiece, full gorgeous phrasings and extraordinarily keen observations. No writer is a greater virtuoso of the English language than Updike, but many of his books are plagued by scenes and storylines that dawdle and beat around the bush. Not this one. This book has a strong and well paced storyline, so you not only get Updike's immaculate writing skills but also the kind of forward momentum that keeps readers feeling a genuine sense of destination.
It's also has a flamboyant cast of characters, lead by Owen Mackenzie, who Updike takes from boyhood to the grave in a whirlwind expedition through childhood hi-jinx, courtship, marriage, fatherhood, numerous extra-marital affairs, business relationships and a career as a computer engineer and entrepreneur. You get a surprisingly well-informed and entertaining history of the computer industry?s evolution. Updike makes extraordinary observations about digital devices and their analogies to the humanity.
It?s also a very sexy book, built around male/female relationships, some sanctioned, some illicit. Nobody writes sex and love scenes like Updike, and this book is loaded with them. They?re not so much descriptions of the act as they are beautifully and incisively crafted explorations of human geography and emotion. Some of these scenes are so literary even Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson would have difficulty quibbling with them.
Lastly, the book is marvelously read and extremely well recorded, making the separation of characters very distinct.
What a treat that John Updike, though advanced in years, is still turning out such powerhouse novels.
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