Maybe I'm wrong or exaggerating or misremembering, but I recall Updike having a bad reputation around the halls of the Dey House. Not from the older crowd. Frank admired him more than once. Ethan, too, methinks. But I remember, specifically, complaints about Updike's ubiquitous and forgettable appearances in the New Yorker. Those I won't defend. Really, I'm not interested in defending anything but the Rabbit tetralogy, which I recently finished.
I say this despite many, many annoyances: some the protagonists's fault and some the author's fault and some indistinguishable. I'm thinking of the casual misogyny, the tiresome wife-swapping, the indulgent exposition, etc. Furthermore, none of Rabbit's worlds--in his twenties, thirties, forties, or fifties--are mine. Still, the guy can write. Sentence by sentence, scene by scene, he's both in control and surprising. His use of the third person present tense is a worthwhile study. The four novels blend together a bit, though not in a bad way. The second, Rabbit Redux, strikes me as a singularly brilliant novel. I'd recommend it to anyone. It manages to be introspective without being condescending or boring, socially conscious without being trite or placating. Buy it for a penny on Amazon marketplace.
I'm curious what others think of the series, if not necessarily Updike.