My story in this week’s Jewish Week comments on Updike’s great creation, Henry Bech. Rabbit is undoubtedly his greatest, but boy, it’s time we give Bech more due. Contra the character’s original purpose–to have a little fun mocking the literary establishment–the Bech stories ended up hitting all Updike’s key themes. That’s my argument, anyway. Read more here.
Ozick wasn’t happy with Bech. In an essay, “Bech, Passing,” published in 1983, she wrote: ‘It is fairly on par with a comic novel about how slavery cretinized the black man. … Despite your Jewish nose and hair, you are — as Jew — an imbecile to the core.’
Also, Alice Tully Hall re-opens this Sunday, Feb. 22. Very exciting. And since medieval Sephardic fare is on the bill for the first night of performances, I got to write about it for The Jewish Week. Ever heard the case for music’s therapuetic power? Ain’t true, at least not when Arabs and Jews have to record together. Read about one such kerfuffle in my interview with Savall, here.