John Updike was “the contemporary American writer [Joyce Carol Oates] most admired,” according to Greg Johnson’s biography of JCO: “Updike’s rural upbringing, his devotion to the art of fiction, his wide reading,

JCO and John Updike at the Swedish Book Fair, Gotenberg, Sweden, 1987. Photo by Raymond Smith.
JCO and John Updike at the Swedish Book Fair, Gothenburg, Sweden, 1987. Photo by Raymond Smith.

and his amazing productivity resembled her own, even though the two writers’ work could hardly have been more different in style and subject matter.”

Updike, for his part, admired JCO’s “wonderfully productive, creative, experimental, fearless approach to the art of fiction.”

I’ve collected in “JCO on John Updike” much of JCO’s writings about Updike and his work, including journal entries and several reviews and essays on The Coup, Rabbit at Rest, and Toward the End of Time, among others.


  1. I enjoyed Updike’s work immensely, and will continue to do so as the years go by. There’s enough to read, and re-read, and read again.

    I enjoyed his voice, as well, from the odd times he gave audio interviews. He had a friendly, everyman voice, free of pretense, lilting and suffused with good humour.


  2. Just the day before he died, I checked his collection of stories “Trust Me” and his novel “Seek My Face” from the library, thinking, “I really should read some Updike again.” His passing places the heavy burden of being the best living American author of short fiction squarely on JCO’s shoulders.


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