MUSEUMS AND WOMEN AND OTHER STORIES by John Updike

MUSEUMS AND WOMEN AND OTHER STORIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Updike short story has always been a limited abstract of experience -- perhaps only a passing reflection of it -- rarely innovative and often an echo chamber of the novels. There is a shiny impermanence here (not to be underestimated -- it is so seductive) and change, loss and dissolution surface through the regret-tinted retrospect. Lovely bygones of the '50's -- those fat fifties ("When Everyone was Pregnant") before it all changed as "our babies drive cars, push pot. . .riot for peace, eat macrobiotic" and threaten like those youngsters ("The Hillies") "the foundations of our lives." That is also the generation of "I Will Not Let Thee Go" or "The Orphaned Swimming Pool" (partings of one kind or another) or the five concluding stories about the Maples and the sexual dissonance of their marriage. Here we are closest to the Updike of Couples and the Updike who commented elsewhere that "the bourgeois novel is inherently erotic, just as the basic unit of bourgeois order -- the family unit built upon the marriage contract -- is erotic." Then there are all those "lives not come to anything" -- e.g. "The Witnesses" or "I Am Dying, Egypt, Dying" in which "the world was his but slid through him" -- a well-traveled, well-heeled youngish man. There are a few Tarbox stories; a group entitled Other Modes which includes the incantatory "Sea's Green Sameness," two which are commentaries, and five which ate really showcase performances. The title story is a marvelous synchronization of associations and convergences and here Updike is at his letter, word and image-perfect best.
Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1972
ISBN: 0394747623
Page count: 282pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1972




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