A dark thread runs through it

More Matter: Essays and Criticism, by John Updike

John Updike's massive new book—of which I have read, yes, every single page—is a firm rejection and reversal of Queen Gertrude's famous plea to Polonius in Hamlet, "More matter, with less art." In this, his fifth volume of essays and criticism, Updike pleads that there be more creative fiction writing and less banal cultural fixation, more concern with religion and metaphysics and less preoccupation with a soulless postmodern secularity. The book is a paradox: Updike determinedly assembles more nonfiction matter to convince us that such matter is not what we really need at this time.


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