ence); and Updike writes with equalnauthority and authenticity about both.nIf Angstrom’s feats are well-remembered,nUpdike has earned and enjoyednanother kind of fame during the samenyears. Updike went to Harvard andnOxford. The less fortunate Angstromnmissed out on college, but served twonyears in the Army. Updike was sparednhis generation’s military experience,ngaining at least a couple of crucialn^career years thereby. And, inevitably,nhe makes less of the Army in Angstrom’snfictional life than he ought to.nIt is highly unlikely that it meant asnlittle to Angstrom, in fact and in memory,nas it seems to. But this is a verynslight weakness^ and is more than compensatednfor by the power and capacitynof Updike’s imagination first to create,nthen to enter into every aspect ofnHarry’s life and, indeed, the lives of allnthe others, men and women, youngnand old, equally who play parts in thisnstory.nI can report that something happensnto us when we start growing old andnthe body begins, in bits and pieces, tonfail. Somehow those of us who arensurvivors and veterans are able to getnaround the shapes and configurationsnof different circumstances and distinctnexperiences and finally see each othernas fellows, a judge and jury of peers.nThis has now happened to Updike andnAngstrom. If, once upon a time, Updikenwas more than a little bit smirkynand condescending with Angstrom andnhis ilk, that’s pretty much over andndone with by now. There is compassionnand understanding here. True,nAngstrom does his share of dumb,nsometimes ridiculous, occasionallyneven wicked and unforgivable things,nadding his full share to the world’snweight of woe; still, his faults andnfoibles, even his sins, are those of annold friend, someone whom we wishnwell even as we wish that he did betternby himself and others.nA plump book of more than fivenhundred pages, its jacket lined with thentraditional purple and black of penance.nRabbit at Rest gets going, outwardlynin time, in the aftermath of thenexplosion of the Pan Am 747 overnScotland and ends with the aftermathnof Hurricane Hugo. Parallel to this,nfirst in Florida, then in fictional Brewer,nPennsylvania, and environs, thennback in West Florida, Angstrom suffersn34/CHRONICLESna heart attack, endures angioplasty,nenjoys a kind of slow suicide of forbiddennconsumption, especially junk food,nand ends the story, after another morendevastating heart attack, in intensivencare and at death’s door. (If Updikenwants to save him for a quintet, the lastnavailable possibility is a heart transplant.)nThe physicality of the story, thensense of Angstrom’s body, its hungersnand aches and pains, is simply superblynrealized. The outline of his inward andnspiritual development, beginning innthe pure cold-sweat funk of fear andntrembling, and ending with acceptancenand a kind of peace, is likewise overwhelming.nThe world beyond memorynand his fingertips comes to Angstrom,nas it does to most of us, by “the news,”nmost often delivered by means of T. V.nUpdike is precise in time and wonderfullynaccurate in his recapitulation ofnpublic events and their impact on Angstrom.nThese are important; for all fournbooks were conceived of as a kind ofntime-capsule chronicle of the times.nThis is especially interesting in thatnUpdike comes as close to living ansheltered life, a life in a cave, as anynmajor writer of our times. The worldnwherein so many of his generationnhave been forced to live, to sink ornswim, comes to his mainly as “thennews.” Which is to say he and Angstromnmay (maybe not) make toonmuch of it all. He does these pieces,nnot set pieces, but living tableaux, verynwell indeed and adroitly manages tonovercome the great danger of soundingnlike a checklist.nUse of current events as the impactnon Angstrom puts Updike at risk, innthis peculiar literary day and age, ofnbeing uniformly judged as “politicallyncorrect” or not by reviewers to whomnpolitics matter more than art or truthn(life). Widely reviewed. Rabbit at Restnhas passed the test. As critic Jay Parini,nwriting in a slick magazine appropriatelyncalled Fame, argues, in defense ofnUpdike’s work in spite of earlier lapsesnfrom grace (“his weirdly blinkered essaynabout the Vietnam War”), “Updikenlike so many writers, is smarter innhis fiction than in ‘real’ life.” Continuing,nParini welcomes Updike back tonthe fold: “As Rabbit Angstrom, in latenmiddle age, is forced to deal with, forninstance, his son’s gay friend, Lyle,nwho has AIDS; with his son’s addictionnto drugs; with the general filthy messnnnthat America, through greed and benignnneglect, has become; one sensesnhis growing political (and, of course,nspiritual) awareness of things.” I amnhappy to be able to report that Updikenis a lot better writer than Parini andnothers credit him with being, and thatnUpdike’s elegiac portrait of America,nseen and experienced by Angstrom, isna lot more solid and subtle than Parini’snview of it. He and Angstrom both arentoo intelligent and decent to equatenvirtue with intelligence and the spiritualnwith the “politically correct.”nThis is a fine, rich, powerfully imaginednnovel, abundant in its details,nample in its rewards.nGeorge Garrett’s most recent novel isnEntered From the Sun, publishednlast fall by Doubleday.n^Something Like anFinal Ordering’nby Daniel James SundahlnDream Song: The Lifenof John Berrymannby Paul MarianinNew York: William Morrow;n519 pp., $29.95nIn the seventy-seventh of The DreamnSongs, John Berryman writes,n”these fierce & airy occupations, andnlove, / raved away so many of Henry’snyears.” The pervasive tone of Berryman’snlife and writing, spanning thentired, mad, and lonely years from 1914nto 1972, is that of religious despair;nsomber and violent, the emphasis is onnthe grotesque dark night of the soulnrather than the immaculate light ofnsalvation. In works now taking theirnplace in American literature, includingnThe Dream Songs (which won a Pulitzer);nHomage to Mistress Bradstreet;nLove & Fame; His Toy, His Dream,nHis Rest (National Book Award); ThenFreedom of the Poet; and Recovery,nBerryman — arguably one of the mostngifted and trenchant poets of the postmodernngeneration — evokes a worldnof psychological schism. His “occupations”nrecord the autobiographicalnquest of a deeply spiritual man fornreligious security against the back-n