Books: The Lion That Squeaked

BECH: A BOOK by John Updike. 206 pages. Knopf. $5.95.

Now that John Updike's Bech stories from The New Yorker have been federated between hard covers, it is easier to see them for what they are: the funniest, most elegantly written and intelligently sympathetic renditions available about what happens when a writer stops being a writer and becomes a culture object.

Updike has ingeniously and elaborately invented Bech and his entire literary career. Verisimilitude is heightened by various Nabokovian cartouches, including an appendix containing Henry Bech's "Russian journal" and an introductory letter to Updike...

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