Books: All the Wounded Gods

John Updike's new novel is a rich reflection on the American painters who conquered the world

Anyone who interviews John Updike, 70, approaches him knowing that he would just as soon be sticking pins in his eyes as sitting across from your tape recorder. He has said as much in some interviews. So it doesn't help that his lovely and wise new novel, Seek My Face (Knopf; 276 pages), describes a long interview in which a journalist with a plain mind confronts a woman with more intricate workings. Hope, 78, is a famous American painter who is questioned by Kathryn, 27, a relentless art specialist who knows everything about postwar American artists except the deep sources of...

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