By John Updike
Knopf, $40.00, 528 pages

John Updike’s Higher Gossip is a substantial collection of his essays and criticism that every writer should read. From the very beginning of the collection the reader is given an insight into Updike that they may not have experienced from reading his pieces in The New Yorker or even his novels. Updike is a legend in the world of writing and Higher Gossip truly shows that. Most astounding to this reviewer was the initial section of the book, which included several essays, short stories, and a collection of poems. If you read the collection for only one section, let it be this one, as Updike transports you into a world of written word that few are able to experience, much less convey.

The rest of the collection takes you through the literary world and the art world, and Updike’s crisp analysis of galleries and written works are an opportunity for every reader to experience a world of art they may not have been around to see. The collection finishes with a series of talks that Updike gave, and the man spoke and wrote with the same endearing manner. Each piece of the collection makes the reader feel as if they knew Updike in person, and can’t help but make this reviewer wish they had. If you only ever read one literary collection, read Higher Gossip. You’ll never wish you hadn’t.

Reviewed by Melissa Boles

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