An Elegant Execution

Updike cries Wolfe at an awards dinner

Last week's National Book Awards banquet in Manhattan was an exquisite literary evening. Copies of nominated books graced each table, nonfloral arrangements for perusal by the usually rumpled and solitary wrestlers of verb and tense now glittering in tuxedos and sequins. There was some disappointment over Tom Wolfe's absence. The room, so festive in black, had expected a coronation for the man so tailored in white: his A Man in Full was the talk of the town, the favorite for the fiction prize. But then John Updike, the most influential of America's living novelists, took the stage looking as sharp as...

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