Summer Sale! Save 20% today and get access to all our member benefits.

Reviews of My Father's Tears by John Updike

My Father's Tears

by John Updike

My Father's Tears by John Updike X
My Father's Tears by John Updike
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2009, 304 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2010, 336 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Natasha Vargas-Cooper
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

John Updike’s first collection of new short fiction since the year 2000, My Father’s Tears finds the author in a valedictory mood as he mingles narratives of his native Pennsylvania with stories of New England suburbia and of foreign travel.

“Personal Archaeology” considers life as a sequence of half-buried layers, and “The Full Glass” distills a lifetime’s happiness into one brimming moment of an old man’s bedtime routine. High-school class reunions, in “The Walk with Elizanne” and “The Road Home,” restore their hero to youth’s 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.” Love’s 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.

Morocco

The seacoast road went smoothly up and down, but compared with an American highway it was eerily empty. Other cars appeared menacing on it, approaching like bullets, straddling the center strip. Along the roadside, alone in all that sunswept space, little girls in multicolored Berber costume held out bouquets of flowers—violets? poppies?—which we were afraid to stop and accept. What were we afraid of? A trap. Bandits. Undertipping, or overtipping. Not knowing enough French, and no Arabic or Berber. “Don’t stop, Daddy, don’t!” was the cry; and it was true, when we did stop at markets, interested persons out of the local landscape would gather about our rented Renault, peering in and offering unintelligible invitations.

We were an American family living in England in 1969 and had come to Morocco naïvely thinking it would be, in April, as absolute an escape to the sun as a trip to the Caribbean from the Eastern United States would be at the ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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...continued

Full Review (759 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Natasha Vargas-Cooper).

Media Reviews

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.

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 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.

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.

Kirkus Reviews
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.

Library Journal
Starred Review. Like his ancient characters, Updike rambles on at times, but no one will complain.

Publishers Weekly
With masterly assurance, Updike transforms the familiar into the mysterious.

Reader Reviews

Cathryn Conroy

Storytelling at Its Finest: Magnificent Look at the World Past and Present
Published in 2009 just a few months after John Updike's death at age 76, this collection of 18 short stories is a magnificent look at the world past and present. The keen observations—from the quotidian details of life during the Great Depression to ...   Read More
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 detail ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The Anti-Updikeans

"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 ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked My Father's Tears, try these:

  • Pulse jacket

    Pulse

    by Julian Barnes

    Published 2012

    About this book

    More by this author

    After the best-selling Arthur & George and Nothing to Be Frightened Of, Julian Barnes returns with fourteen stories about longing and loss, friendship and love, whose mysterious natures he examines with his trademark wit and observant eye.

  • Apparition & Late Fictions jacket

    Apparition & Late Fictions

    by Thomas Lynch

    Published 2011

    About this book

    More by this author

    Heart-rending stories of life and death: a debut fiction collection by the award-winning author of The Undertaking.

We have 6 read-alikes for My Father's Tears, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by John Updike
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Coin
    The Coin
    by Yasmin Zaher
    A popular choice for book jackets in recent years, perhaps especially in the historical fiction ...
  • Book Jacket: The Night of Baba Yaga
    The Night of Baba Yaga
    by Akira Otani, Sam Bett
    When Yoriko Shindo gets into a brawl on a busy street in 1970s Tokyo, she has no idea what the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Anthropologists
    The Anthropologists
    by Aysegül Savas
    A documentary filmmaker, Asya is interested in the "unremarkable grace" of daily life, "the slow and...
  • Book Jacket: Mood Swings
    Mood Swings
    by Frankie Barnet
    This book begins with a bombastic premise. Seemingly fed up with the heating planet, the world's ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.
Who Said...

If there is anything more dangerous to the life of the mind than having no independent commitment to ideas...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L T C O of the B

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.