A beautiful, moving collection of short stories, in many of which Updike revisits the haunts of his childhood from the vantage point of old age. In "Fiftieth" old friends reconnect at a class reunion, and one of them is left wondering, 'What does it mean: the enormity of having been children and now being old, living next to death.' In the story ...
A beautiful, moving collection of short stories, in many of which Updike revisits the haunts of his childhood from the vantage point of old age. In "Fiftieth" old friends reconnect at a class reunion, and one of them is left wondering, 'What does it mean: the enormity of having been children and now being old, living next to death.' In the story "The Full Glass" the protagonist describes somewhat ruefully the rituals of old age. Before going to bed, he raises his nightly water glass 'drinking a toast to the visible world, his impending disappearance from it be damned.' In "Varieties of Religious Experiences" a grandfather, visiting his daughter in Brooklyn Heights, watches the tower of the World Trade Centre fall, and his view of a God is forever altered. Again and again in these memorable stories, Updike strikes to the heart, giving words to what is so often left unsaid. He is at once witty, devastatingly observant, touching - and, of course, a consummate storyteller. This is a collection that will be admired and cherished.
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Publishers Weekly, 2009-03-30 Updike compresses the strata of a life in his delicately rendered, tremendously moving posthumous collection. In "Free," the memory of a life-affirming affair buckles against a man's loyalty to his deceased wife: he recognizes that becoming a "well-bred stick" offers more consolation in old age than the sluggish arousal of his sensuality. In "The Accelerating Expansion of the Universe," the retired protagonist, depressed by what he perceives as the universe's indifference to human affairs, is done in by the accumulated detritus of his life. Many characters are haunted by a sense of isolation, such as the protagonist of "Personal Archaeology," who roams his Massachusetts estate, searching for traces of previous ownership while sifting through his own petty contribution, or the emotionally stranded absentee landlord of an Alton, Pa., family farm in "The Road Home," who returns after 50 years and finds himself lost in his hometown. From "Kinderszenen," which depicts the anxious time of smalltown late 1930s, to "Varieties of Religious Experience," in which a grandfather watches the twin towers fall, time ushers in brutal changes. With masterly assurance, Updike transforms the familiar into the mysterious. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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