Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"...[T]he ache of knowing and celebrating how we've lived, what it all may mean and where we're going give...a beauty and gravity that crown a brilliant, enduring life's work and legacy." Kirkus Reviews
"These marvelously wrought stories should not be regarded as a career summation but, rather, as evidence of a career interrupted....September songs from an American master." Booklist
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.
About the Author
John Updike (1932 - 2009)was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of the New Yorker, and since 1957 lived in Massachusetts. He is the author of fifty-odd previous books, including twenty novels and numerous collections of short stories, poems, and criticism. His fiction has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells Medal.
Table of Contents
The Walk with Elizanne
The Laughter of the Gods
Varieties of Religious Experience
Spanish Prelude to a Second Marriage
The Accelerating Expansion of the Universe
The Road Home
My Fathers Tears
The Full Glass