Category Archives: john updike

John Updike’s “New” Story Collection

Everyman's Library has collected 18 stories published over the course of 50 years that John Updike wrote about a married couple known as Richard and Joan Maple. Review here:

A second important point about these pieces is that read in sequence, they give a beautifully condensed view of Updike's style as it developed, changed, and shifted over the course of his long career. "Snowing in Greenwich Village," which marked the first appearance of Richard and Joan Maple, appeared in The New Yorker in 1956, when the author was a mere 24 years of age. It is full of portents of what would become his mature style — he is already, for instance, finding the oddest things "poignant" — but it is still the half-baked work of a young man trying to find his own voice and that of his characters. Four years later, with "Wife-Wooing," he experiments with a Joycean floridity that does not quite suit him and that he would eschew in later fiction; but we begin, also, to observe the crystalline descriptive gifts that would mark his best work. Here, for instance, he describes the family eating dinner around the fire: "The girl and I share one half-pint of potatoes; you and the boy share another; and in the center, sharing nothing, making simple reflections within himself like a jewel, the baby, mounted in an Easybaby, sucks at his bottle with frowning mastery, his selfish, contemplative eyes stealing glitter from the center of the flames."

By the time Updike gets to "Giving Blood" in 1963, he has grown into his adult assurance . . .

Sounds pretty good, although probably for the uninitiated like me there's far more basic Updike texts to get to first.

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