The recent and devastating news of John Updike’s passing has been prevalently reported over the past few days, and for good reason – the man, by all accounts, was a literary legend. And, while I shamefully admit to having never read any of Mr. Updike’s novels (the Rabbit series is definitely on my ‘hit list’ for future reading now), all of the focus on Mr. Updike during the past week has reminded me of a post I read back in 2006, one I stumbled across while scouring the Web for tips on academic book reviewing.
The post in question was written by John Freeman at the Critical Mass blog (the blog of the National Book Critics Circle), and its content impressed me so much that it’s lurked in my bookmarks ever since. John’s post contains a list of six rules to follow when reviewing books, and the rules were compiled by none other than John Updike, as part of the introduction to his 1975 collected work of assorted essays – Picked up Pieces. It would be wrong of me to plagiarise John’s post in order to list Mr. Updike’s six reviewing rules here, so I invite you to go along to the Critical Mass blog to absorb them (and absorb them I’m sure you will).
Why have I’ve chosen the Sunday Salon to point fellow Saloners to Mr. Updike’s review rules? Well, like my previous Sunday Salon post which pointed to Virginia Woolf’s excellent ‘Love of Reading’ essay reprinted by the Guardian, this is ‘liquid gold’ guidance for what many of us do – book reviewing, so it’s of significant value to most of us!
My thanks go to John Freeman for introducing me to Mr. Updike’s rules, and my unfaltering gratitude of course goes to John Updike for compiling them in the first place. May you Rest in Peace Mr. Updike!
That’s all from me for the first Sunday Salon of the month. Hopefully see you next week. Until then – have a great seven days filled with bookish wonderment and glee.
**This post has been specifically written for Sunday Salon participation**