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John Updike - Biography

John Updike
Commentary by Karen Bernardo

John Updike was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on March 18, 1932, but spent his teenage years in Shillington, PA, which would form the model for the small towns of much of his fiction.

Coming of age in the 1950s, Updike creates in his fiction a unique picture of upper-middle-class American attitudes in that era and the decades that followed. Even as he creates sympathetic portrayals of sexual frustration and the fear of nonconformity, he is able to step back and allow the reader to ask whether conformity is really all it's cracked up to be, and whether that frustration is really inevitable. Tolerant and bemused, he shows characters of the mid-to-late twentieth century as they actually were, in the environments in which they actually lived, and thus creates an indelible portrait of who we were -- and how much of our angst was our own fault.

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