Chip McGrath talks with John Updike. While the results are certainly better than, say, a sycophantic and humorless conversation with Sam Tanenhaus, one reads this Updike interview wondering whether McGrath was operating on auto pilot. After all, how many times does one get to talk with Updike at length? Okay, so he’s no fan of the Internet, but shouldn’t you give the man some space to ramble at length?
Not only is an observation concerning Updike avoiding cell phones in his novels not followed up on, but there’s also Updike’s self-effacing remark about how he’s “not clever enough” to write a murder mystery that stops short of a full confession. Is this current NYT interview policy? Talking with one of the most distinguished American novelists without latching onto the potential depth he’s feeding you?
Maybe McGrath had a golf game or something that day, but I have to conclude that this was a half-missed opportunity.