some readers already felt that Roth's recent books contained too much Roth, Updike charged-Updike was clearly among them-but Operation Shylock contained too much of everything. Roth, as an author, had become exhausting.
This had to hurt. Whatever Roth thought about the capacities of professional reviewers, he had an unflagging respect for Updike's opinion. They had developed a friendly acquaintance over the years, starting when they were young and full of plans and arguing about the Vietnam War. (Roth tells me that one o f their arguments, somewhat transmogrified, made it into Rabbit Redux, with Updike-a defender of the war-in the role of the politically conservative Rabbit, and Roth's views emerging from a black revolutionary character called Skeeter).
Roth and Bloom had gone to dinner at the Updike's house, near Boston, when Bloom was performing there. (Roth was mightily impressed by the layout of the house, with separate rooms for Updike's various projects-novels, poetry, reviews-and a typewriter in each one). Roth didn't write reviews, but he telephoned Updike whenever he admired something, and Updike-who Roth says generally stayed aloof-would occasionally write him a note. In assessing his generation of writers, Roth often says that Updike had the greatest natural gift of all of them.
Claudia Roth Pierpont