David Foster Wallace on Updike (1997)
Mailer, Updike, Roth — the Great Male Narcissists who’ve dominated postwar realist fiction are now in their senescence, and it must seem to them no coincidence that the prospect of their own deaths appears backlit by the approaching millennium and on-line predictions of the death of the novel as we know it. When a solipsist dies, after all, everything goes with him. And no U.S. novelist has mapped the solipsist’s terrain better than John Updike, whose rise in the 60s and 70s established him as both chronicler and voice of probably the single most self-absorbed generation since Louis XIV. As were Freud’s, Mr. Updike’s big preoccupations have always been with death and sex (not necessarily in that order), and the fact that the mood of his books has gotten more wintery in recent years is understandable — Mr. Updike has always written largely about himself, and since the surprisingly moving Rabbit at Rest he’s been exploring, more and more overtly, the apocalyptic prospect of his own death.