Bech is Back is Updike’s sequel to Bech, A Book, the chronicle of Henry Beck, American-Jewish fiction writer in the late sixties and early seventies. Bech travels widely with his new wife, before settling down to write after a decade long plus dry spell. He is forced to do this by his Christian wife, in no small part to make money for her and her children.
Bech dutifully obeys, and after two years of work, produces the novel Think Big, which becomes a critical and commercial success. Of course, there are unintended consequences of Bech’s renewed success. For Bech, the novel opens and closes doors at the same time.
As you read the Bech books, the stinging satire and irony become less an illustration of Updike’s skill at stringing very artfully woven sentences, and more of an exploration of the interconnection between art and life.