Updike in Cincinnati
A Literary Performance

Edited by James Schiff
Photography by Jon Hughes

“One of the best and oddest academic books to appear in quite some time.… (A) blissful snort of unfiltered catnip.”

The New York Times

“Acres of print have been consecrated to Updike and his achievements, from academic treatises to Nicholson Baker’s sublimely idiosyncratic tribute U & I, but perhaps the book that captures Updike’s writerly public persona best is a curious little gem called Updike in Cincinnati: A Literary Performance, an account (edited by James Schiff) of Updike’s readings and musings at a short story festival in 2001. Graced with Updike’s customary humor, perception, painterly eye, gloved modesty, and acute social radar, Updike in Cincinnati is most revealing when the author is acknowledging the limitations that lie treacherously under the surface.”

Vanity Fair

“An invaluable time capsule.... William H. Pritchard and Donald J. Greiner join Schiff as three of the very best Updike critics....”

American Literary Scholarship

“Updike impromptu is remarkable. Here, in print, is that clever man dancing around an audience question couched in a baseball analogy … which concerns Updike never having received the Nobel Prize. Updike responds with an extemporaneous, philosophical and very knowing take on baseball history, including the Black Sox scandal.…”

Cincinnati CityBeat

For two spring days in 2001, John Updike visited Cincinnati, Ohio, engaging and charming his audiences, reading from his fiction, fielding questions, sitting for an interview, participating in a panel discussion, and touring the Queen City.

Successful writers typically spend a portion of their lives traveling the country to give readings and lectures. While a significant experience for author and audience alike, this public spectacle, once covered in detailed newspaper accounts, now is barely noticed by the media. Updike in Cincinnati—composed of a wealth of materials, including session transcripts, short stories discussed and read by the author, photographs, and anecdotal observations about Updike's performance and personal interactions--is unique in its comprehensive coverage of a literary visit by a major American author.

Updike's eloquence, intelligence, improvisational skills, and gift for comedy are all on display. With natural grace, he discusses a range of topics, including his novels and short stories, his mother and oldest son as writers, Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson, the Nobel Prize, his appearance on The Simpsons, the Cold War, and Hamlet.

Augmented with commentary by critics W. H. Pritchard and Donald Greiner, and an introduction and interview by James Schiff, Updike in Cincinnati provides an engaging and detailed portrait of one of America's contemporary literary giants.

James Schiff is an associate professor of English at the University of Cincinnati. He is the author of several books on contemporary fiction, including Updike's Version, John Updike Revisited, and Understanding Reynolds Price.

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Related Subjects

American Literature · Literary Studies



Retail price: $22.95, S.
Release date: Mar. 2007
176 pages · 6 × 8½ in.
Rights: World


Release date: Mar. 2007
≅ 176 pages
Rights: World

Additional Praise for Updike in Cincinnati

“Anyone interested in Updike’s role and stature in such public literary gatherings will surely not want to miss reading James Schiff’s excellent portrayal and record.… Schiff has done us all a great favor with this risky publishing venture.”

The Centaurian

Updike in Cincinnati … has to be one of the most oddly appealing and cult-like books about author John Updike ever published.… It's a bit obsessive but also utterly engrossing, due in large part to Updike's wit, charm and intelligence. The man can answer even the most potentially embarrassing question with grace and humor. After reading this, I feel like I was actually there.”

Cincinnati Enquirer

“I had a great time in Cincinnati; but why is there no shrine to Doris Day?”

John Updike