Books: White Mischief

THE COUP

by John Updike

Knopf; 298 pages; $8.95

Like a hermit crab, John Updike inhabits old but serviceable forms: the novel, short story and light verse, the Christian church, a duly consecrated marriage (his second) and a 19th century Massachusetts farmhouse. Both the artist and the man have discovered the vital irritants and ironic satisfactions of the familiar and traditional. His body of work grows with impressive regularity. He is a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and a fixed star at The New Yorker. Yet many critics have called...

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