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Seek my face
John Updike
Adult Fiction UPDIKE

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Couched in the form of a day-long conversation between 79-year-old painter Hope Chafetz, living in seclusion in Vermont, and a chic young interviewer from New York, Updike's 20th novel is an ambitious attempt to capture the moment when America "for the first time ever... led world art." As a fictional survey of the birth of abstract expressionism, pop art and other contemporary genres, the narrative offers a somewhat slick overview of the roiling currents of genius and calculation, artistic vision and personal ambition that characterized the art scene in the postwar years. Updike's ability to get inside an artist's psyche is considerable, as Hope's monologue convincingly demonstrates. Because he tries to distill and convey an era of art history, however, there is a static and didactic quality to the narrative; much of it sounds like art-crit disguised as exposition. As a reader can infer from an author's note in which Updike acknowledges his debt to the Naifeh and Smith biography of Jackson Pollock, Hope's life bears a strong resemblance to that of Pollock's wife, Lee Krasner. Hope's memories recapitulate the dilemma of an artist whose personal expression is thwarted by marriage and the omnipresence of alcohol and drugs, and since this is Updike country, Hope is more than candid about her sex life with Zack (Pollock); her second husband, Guy Holloway (loosely modeled on Warhol); and her third, art critic Jerry Chafetz. Updike's descriptions of landscapes and interiors are painterly in themselves, closely observed and sensuous. On the whole, the novel is a study of the artist as archetype, "a man who in the end loves nothing but his art." On that level it succeeds, but readers who long for plot and action may be disappointed. (Nov. 19) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Because Updike turns out not only fiction and poetry but art criticism, it comes as no surprise that central to his new novel is an artist undergoing the ordeal of a day-long interview. As 79-year-old Hope Chafetz responds warily to the questions of her black-clad young interlocutor, recalling her artistic beginnings, her troubled marriage to the Jackson Pollock-like Zack, and her eventual withdrawal to rustic seclusion in Vermont, Updike reels out the entire history of postwar American art. It's an imaginative way to relate this history, and Updike asks probing aesthetic questions that range beyond his story. Framing the novel as a single interview does slow the action, however, and some readers may find Hope's self-effacement irksome. Still, this is Updike-and especially thoughtful Updike at that. For all collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/02.]-Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Kathryn
Female
Age: Young adult
Interviewing Hope for an article.
Writer

Hope Chafetz
Female
Age: 79
Remarried
Painter; thrice married.
Artist



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