Updike’s Fiction … Again

Again, my thanks to my buddy Greg for keeping my book habit going. He sent me another volume of a writer I never tire of reading: John Updike. Thank you, Greg.

I am not quite through this volume you sent me, but should be by the end of this week.

The stories I have read so far are typically Updikean. They’re meticulous examples of Updike’s precision and detail. I know few writers (perhaps Nicholson Baker in this generation, or Flaubert or Dickens in earlier generations) who name fashion (women’s and men’s) with such accuracy. I find myself looking up words all the time with Updike, but the labor is more than worth the work.

The same Updikean themes are evident in this volume of stories, too: marriage, divorce, appearance vs. reality, accomplishment (or lack thereof), God vs. the void, adulteries of various kinds, hope vs. despair, and death.

No small ideas with Updike, in my view. He used the mundane as his canvas in order to display the profound.

Art is about particular detail, arranged intentionally, crafted to herald messages and meaning to those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

And few crafted so well as John Updike.

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