Wednesday, February 20, 2019

It's a bitter 4 degrees here in Portland, and the sky is an odd shade of pink. My wrists ache from too much computer work: I've been pressing hard to get these editing and proofreading gigs under control before I go back to school on Monday, and my carpal nerves are barking. But I think the worst is behind me now. Today I can focus on my essay class and read some high school drafts and give my poor wrists a break.

I've been reading Updike's Bech at Bay, which is a peculiar and not entirely likable book. It's a group of linked short stories about an aging famous author who is, surprisingly, not a Massachusetts or Pennsylvania Protestant but a Jewish New Yorker. Was Updike trying to enact what it might have felt to be Philip Roth or Chaim Potok or Saul Bellow? The result is odd . . . not least because it also feels like one of those David Lodge/Kingsley Amis "let's reveal the dirty underclothes of the academic literati" books. Plus, it's set in the 1980s and 1990s, so all the nubile youngish women who for some reason want to sleep with these aging writers are basically the age I was then. In other words, I've been rolling my eyes a lot.

However, the book is a candy-corn sort of read, and my eyes are tired, and I'm reading lots and lots of things for work, so I'm not sorry to have a chance to be detached and mildly scornful. That can be relaxing in its own way.

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