The Bat Segundo Show #50


Author: John Updike

Condition of Mr. Segundo: Defending himself against obnoxious talk show hosts and ready to move on.

Subjects Discussed: Epigraphs, faith and disbelief, starting Terrorist with a Catholic priest, first person vs. third person, on writing upon Americana, post-9/11 symbolism, humanism vs. pessimism, blow jobs, Christopher Hitchens, the state of the September 11 novel, Norman Mailer, Neil LaBute’s The Mercy Seat, applying “On Not Being a Dove” to Iraq, airport X-ray machines, external sexual imagery vs. internal emotion in prose, why Updike concentrates on explicit anatomical detail, Goths, language, challenging Updike on the BEA speech and the Internet.


  1. Amazing.

    I love how deep your questions go, how well you hold up your end of the conversation. I learned a lot just listening to your follow-ups for Updike. I think too many interviewers, myself included, get dulled by proximity to a great writer. You held up.

    It sounded like he was pretty impressed by the time you mounted your defense of the Internet. You made me want to check out Witches of Eastwick again, too often I just think about Updike as the Author of the Rabbit Books. Keep up the good work.

  2. I second the comment above — a remarkable performance. I think you even elicit a grunt of intrigued recognition from Updike when you ask about the three examples of visual sexual imagery. I bet that doesn’t happen too often with J-Up. Well well done and worth the extended wait.

  3. Oh, and I meant to say: good work standing up for us “little people” of the internet. Most of what Up said was excellent, but it’s sad that he seems to be stubbornly holding on to this idea that all we do here on the internet is chat, misspell and post pictures to MySpace. I’m glad you let him know there’s more here than MySpace.

    Overall, though, I think Updike came off very well, and in my opinion this is the best Bat Segundo interview of them all. Congrats on the big fifty.

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