Henry Bech, the moderately well known Jewish-American writer who served as the hero of John Updike's previous Bech: A Book and Bech is Back, has become older but scarcely wiser. In these five new chapters from his life, he is still at bay, pursued by the hounds of desire, of unbridled criticism in a literary world ever more cheerfully crass. He fights intimations of annihilation in still-Communist Czechoslovakia, while promiscuously consorting with dissidents, apparatchiks, and Midwestern Republicans. Next, he succumbs to the temptations of power by accepting the presidency of a quaint and cosseted honorary body patterned on the Academie Francaise. Then the reader finds him on trial in California and on a criminal rampage in a gothic Gotham, abetted by a nubile sidekick called Robin. Lastly, our septuagenarian veteran of the literary wars is rewarded with a coveted medal. It's not easy being Henry Bech in the post-Gutenbergian world - he brings to the task that indomitable mixture of grit and ennui that only Updike can make so deliciously funny.