Warning: the Rabbit Is Loose

Updike imagines Tristan in Brazil and catches jungle fever

Who is that gray-haired gringo acting up on top of the carnival float?

You mean the one decked out in medieval myth, gorgeous metaphors and a devilish grin? That's John Updike, the North American writer who usually makes his living turning out fiction about the lust-lives of New England palefaces.

What is he doing in Rio de Janeiro? To judge from the antics in his latest novel, Brazil (Knopf; 260 pages; $23), he seems to be having the sort of good time that not everyone will appreciate.

Like a Shriner with a water pistol? Something like that. Even writers have to...

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