The one exception he made is for biographies that enable us “to partake again, from another angle, of the joys we have experienced within the author’s oeuvre, in the presence of a voice and mind we have come to love” (“On Literary Biography,” Due Considerations, 2007). The supreme example of this kind of biography is George D. Painter’s Marcel Proust (1959). Updike admired Painter’s book enormously. In “On Literary Biography,” he wrote, “Lovers of Proust will be inevitably drawn to Painter because it is more of the same, mirrored back into reality.”
Postscript: Pick of the Issue this week is Justin Quinn’s delightful "Recession Song," celebrating the medicinal and spiritual benefits of sage (“Sage is just the thing / for snakebite, bee sting / and keeping the bad at bay”). It’s a classic poem, beautifully rhymed, artfully lineated, specific, vital, and complete. It went straight into my personal anthology of great New Yorker poems.