Seek My Face


by John Updike

On a spring day in Vermont, seventy-nine-year-old painter Hope Chafetz tells the story of her life to Kathryn, a young interviewer from New York.

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Questions send Hope back to her youth, to the heady postwar days of American art and her relationships with the artists who defined their times. As the day wears on, Kathryn and Hope – interviewer and interviewee – try to understand one another across the gulf of age, experience and time that lies between them. And subtly, as each comes to know the other, their relationship changes …

The Barnes & Noble Review:

A dazzling portrait of the artist as an old, super-connected woman, John Updike’s 20th novel is a remarkably compressed yet sprawling study, one that bursts with the detail of an intricately crafted miniature. The deliberately discursive narrative is framed by an intense, daylong interview between Kathryn, a writer for an unnamed online art journal, and 79-year-old grande dame Hope Chafetz, a successful painter and the former wife of two legendary artists. The tightly focused structure of Seek My Face relies on two sources of dramatic tension: the edgy, constantly shifting relationship between interviewer and subject and the stories Hope tells about her life, her marriages, and her intimate participation in two of the dominant artistic movements of the 20th century. Hope’s turbulent first marriage to doomed genius Zack McCoy — a lightly fictionalized rendering of Jackson Pollock — provides the basis for an authoritative account of the rise and fall of Abstract Impressionism. Her subsequent marriage to Guy Holloway — an obvious surrogate for Andy Warhol — describes the evolution of the Pop Art movement, a radically different attempt to find a new way of seeing and interpreting the world. Hope’s story is a personal, idiosyncratic account of love, sex, marriage, memory, and the inevitable effects of growing old — of losing all that once mattered. It also offers a unique perspective on the restless experimentation that fueled some of the most original paintings of the modern era. At the bottom, as the title indicates, Seek My Face is a novel about artistic and spiritual striving, about art as a means of apprehending the sacred, about imperishable creations “ripped from the perishing world.” This short, illuminating novel is itself a polished, deeply affecting work of art. At 70 years of age, Updike remains an awe-inspiring stylist, and his precise observations of human beings at their best and worst are as intelligent and compelling as ever. Bill Sheehan

Additional information

Book Condition

Used – Good




276 pages, ~13×20 cm


January 29, 2004 by Penguin, first published 2002


Fiction, Contemporary

Seek My Face


1 in stock