Before reading these wonderful stories, I was prejudiced against the great writer, Updike. He seemed, like so many ‘50’s men, to be a cocktail drinking, religious, hypocritical womanizing misogynist. That was too pat a view of this very skilled writer. These early stories are great. I wasn’t a fan of the intensely popular Rabbit series of novels which he wrote after these, but now, charmed by his early stories, I must give his novels a reread.
Some of the stories deal with a more mobile America where families moved away from roots. Some of the stories deal with questions of religious faith and what it means to be both literate and devout. In the story, The Alligators Updike deals with children who bully the new kid as seen in the eyes of an empathic classmate. In Friends from Philadelphia the snobbishness of a young man is explored as he presumes of his friend’s family to perform his family errands. One might say that this is all mundane stuff, but we are all preoccupied with death and its finality; friendship and enmity and our own belief in our personal importance. These themes are all contained in this handsome volume from Everyman’s Pocket Classics.
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