Personal Archaeology considers life as a sequence of half-buried layers, and The Full Glass distills a lifetimes happiness into one brimming moment of an old mans bedtime routine. High-school class reunions, in The Walk with Elizanne and The Road Home, restore their hero to youths commonwealth where, as the narrator of the title story confides, the self I value is stored, however infrequently I check on its condition. Exotic locales encountered in the journeys of adulthood include Morocco, Florida, Spain, Italy, and India. The territory of childhood, with its fundamental, formative mysteries, is explored in The Guardians, The Laughter of the Gods, and Kinderszenen. Loves fumblings among the bourgeoisie yield the tart comedy of Free, Delicate Wives, The Apparition, and Outage.
In sum, American experience from the Depression to the aftermath of 9/11 finds reflection in these glittering pieces of observation, remembrance, and imagination.
After reading the first story in this collection, I remembered something Martin Amis wrote about Updike: "having read him once, you admit to yourself, almost with a sigh that you will have to read everything he writes." Updike chronicles the lives of widowers, divorcees, adulterers, fathers with lyrical accuracy and savory insight... his sentences are acrobatic; they’re deft and complicated, flowery but shockingly lucid. (Reviewed by Natasha Vargas-Cooper).
The Los Angeles Times
... an uneven and grimly literal collection of fiction that reprises -- and repraises -- the author's childhood, chronicles the indignities of old age, describes in nearly guidebook fashion far-off travels and lingers over detritus found in a home that sounds very much like the one Updike occupied until his death.
The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani
Mr. Updike writes in these stories…with the quiet assurance of someone in complete control of his craft…he sticks here to what he does best: memorializing the mundane, the ordinary joys and sorrows and confusions of suburban middle class life.
Christian Science Monitor
... as hyper-articulate and resonant as any he’s written, and to my taste, more convincing and evocative than his late novels
The Guardian (UK) - Martin Amis
[These] stories are as quietly inconclusive as Updike's stories usually are; but now, denuded of a vibrant verbal surface, they sometimes seem to be neither here nor there - products of nothing more than professional habit... [but] Updike's creations live, and authorial love is what sustains them.
The Washington Post - Ron Hansen My Father's Tears is a self-conscious salute to a grand career of imagining and gorgeously describing our America, along with a wink of gratitude to those readers who have shared the journey.
With masterly assurance, Updike transforms the familiar into the mysterious.
Starred Review. Like his ancient characters, Updike rambles on at times, but no one will complain.
Starred Review. [T]he ache of knowing and celebrating how we've lived, what it all may mean and where we're going give this final testament a beauty and gravity that crown a brilliant, enduring life's work and legacy. A fine final act.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Cary Branscum outta the box; a pre-read review That's right, haven't read it, going to. Let me tell you why so you will read it too. John Updike inhabits each word he writes, each story, each book. He is without peer in chronicling the American suburban hearts, feelings, dreads, joys, and... Read More
"I'd like to offer assurances that your reviewer is not one of these spleen-venting, spittle-spattering Updike-haters one encounters among literary readers under 40. The fact is that I am probably classifiable as one of very few actual sub-40 Updike fans."
This quote comes from an essay by David Foster Wallace, the upstart author of the late 90's, published in The New York Observer in 1997. Though Wallace's essay on Updike is not "spleen-venting" it is absolutely scalding and is the sacred document of the Anti-Updike faction on college campuses. It's considered the rallying cry that spurred the literary backlash against The Great White Male. According to Wallace, Updike was the chronicler and the voice of "the most self-absorbed generation since Louis XIV."
Wallace argued that Updike, like Phillip Roth, Norman Mailer, and Fredrick Exley, created a legacy of diminution and joyless self-indulgence. The authors were radically self-absorbed and totally uncritical of their own celebration of self-absorption...
From a chance encounter between two childhood friends to the memories of a newly widowed man to a family grappling with the sale of their ancestral land, Trevor examines with grace and skill the tenuous bonds of our relationships, the strengths that hold us together, and the truths that threaten to separate us.
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