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The John Updike Audio Collection Unabridged Cd [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

John Updike
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 2 2003

The extraordinarily evocative stories depict the generation born in a small-town America during the Depression and growing up in a world where the old sexual morality was turned around and material comforts were easily had. Yet, as these stories reflect so accurately, life was still unsettling, and Updike chronicles telling moments both joyful and painful. The texts are taken from his recent omnibus, The Early Stories, 1953-1975.

In describing how he wrote these stories in a small, rented, smoke-filled office in Ipswitch, Massachusetts, he says, "I felt that I was packaging something as delicately pervasive as smoke, one box after another, in that room, where my only duty was to describe reality as it had come to me -- to give the mundane its beautiful due."


Product Details


Product Description

About the Author

John Updike was born in 1932, 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 has 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.

From AudioFile

One expects the two distinguished actors narrating thiscollection, Edward Herrmann (an AUDIOFILE Golden Voice) and JaneAlexander, to deliver sterling performances, and they do. Herrmann'svoice is strikingly patrician, yet warm; Alexander's is plummy andobservant. The unexpected pleasure is that John Updike, in anunactorly way, manages to keep up with them. Even in his early 70s, heis able to modulate his voice to reveal the spaces amid the dialogueof his characters, the quantum chasms that exist between people. Hereads with care for his words and characters, but without showingoff. The audio collection contains 14 of Updike's most well-knownstories, most of which demonstrate the author's abiding faith in theredemption of human affiliation. One of the most wonderful is"Gesturing," a story that turns Boston's John Hancock building, withits shimmering sky-filled façade, into breathtaking metaphor.E.K.D. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2004,Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

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Customer Reviews

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3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful Dec 26 2003
Format:Audio CD
The person who gave this audiobook 1 star is on crack. He (or is it she?) doesn't even own it. I do and have listened to it. I've also read the Early Stories in print from which these recording are taken. Updike is an amazing author, and in truth, the stories represented on this collection are among his best, including Pigeon Feathers and A&P. I do wish, however, that they were all read by Updike. There are two other readers in addition to Updike. But this is an enjoyable, tight, mecurial introdution to the work of a master of the short form.
In addition to this CD collection, you might also consider picking up:
Too Far To Go -- a collection of stories about the Maples, a couple on the verge of divorce. One of the Maple stories is included on these CDs. Too Far To Go includes all but one, perhaps two, stories about the Maples. The one story that I'm aware of about the couple (Grandparenting) is included in the Afterlife and was published after Too Far To Go. (BTW, if you know where the other Maples story is located, drop me a note.)
The Complete Henry Bech -- a collection of stories about Henry Bech, which includes the first three Bech books as well as subsequent material. One of the Bech stories is included on this CD collection.
Most people usually point to the Rabbit books as the place to start with the novels. They are excellent. However, Of The Farm, a short novel, is my personal favorite and ties in nicely to some of the Olinger stories included in this audio CD collection.
The stories on this colletion are mostly short. The longest, Pigeon Feathers, runs under an hour. But most are in the 15-25 mintue range. Excellent for short drives or walks.
Pick one up. There are stories on this collection I could listen to over and over again.
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Format:Audio CD
Hey one star man...you surely are kidding....or is this actually a frustrated writer who is jealous of anything approaching talent. I suppose you felt Shakespeare was a hack and Kafka and Proust mass market phonies. Back to your Harlequin romances..down boy down. Updike is Dickens of our era although I suspect you find Dickens a bit thick for you as well
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars so so boring Dec 30 2003
Format:Audio CD
Everyone has such great things to say about Updike. I've tried to read his works before but was so put off by the self-conscious writing that I had to put his books down. So I tried to listen to his stories in audio and it was even worse. I couldn't even pay attention for more than five minutes. In my opinion, he's overrated, and it seems that at the heart of his writing and maybe at the heart of Updike himself lies a shallowness that can't be glossed over. Some say Updike's the best American writer of the last fifty years, but you never get the feeling that you're in the presence of greatness when you read him. With guys like Tolstoy, Fitzgerald, or Hemingway you feel as though you are being bowled over by something mighty. This is due not only to their great writing but to the greatness of their inner lives, which comes out in every line. And so it's not suprising that they've left a body of work that will stand for the ages. Updike, however, always leaves you feeling empty. He writes as though he had greatness within him, but his itty bitty suburban stories do nothing. They don't enliven; they are not a joy to read; they are verbose and stultify to the extreme. If Updike is considered one of America's literary gems then that should speak volumes about the deplorable state of literature in this country. Save your money. Save your sanity. Read something else.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful Dec 26 2003
By Englishboy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The person who gave this audiobook 1 star is on crack. He (or is it she?) doesn't even own it. I do and have listened to it. I've also read the Early Stories in print from which these recording are taken. Updike is an amazing author, and in truth, the stories represented on this collection are among his best, including Pigeon Feathers and A&P. I do wish, however, that they were all read by Updike. There are two other readers in addition to Updike. But this is an enjoyable, tight, mecurial introdution to the work of a master of the short form.
In addition to this CD collection, you might also consider picking up:
Too Far To Go -- a collection of stories about the Maples, a couple on the verge of divorce. One of the Maple stories is included on these CDs. Too Far To Go includes all but one, perhaps two, stories about the Maples. The one story that I'm aware of about the couple (Grandparenting) is included in the Afterlife and was published after Too Far To Go. (BTW, if you know where the other Maples story is located, drop me a note.)
The Complete Henry Bech -- a collection of stories about Henry Bech, which includes the first three Bech books as well as subsequent material. One of the Bech stories is included on this CD collection.
Most people usually point to the Rabbit books as the place to start with the novels. They are excellent. However, Of The Farm, a short novel, is my personal favorite and ties in nicely to some of the Olinger stories included in this audio CD collection.
The stories on this colletion are mostly short. The longest, Pigeon Feathers, runs under an hour. But most are in the 15-25 mintue range. Excellent for short drives or walks.
Pick one up. There are stories on this collection I could listen to over and over again.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Crafted Stories and Well Read Nov. 25 2007
By CJA - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Updike is at his best when writing short stories, and this collection includes some wonderful works wonderfully read. I especially like Mr. Herrmann's readings. Updike himself reads the best story in the the collection: "A&P." While an author is often not the best reader (remember Sean Connery's line in "Finding Forrester", where the celebrated writer confesses that the only reason for a writer to read his own work is to get laid), Updike reads this particular story very well. It is a funny and very moving story. The last sentence of the story brings the whole work into focus and is about as perfect an ending to a story as I've ever read.

In this and in other stories, Updike does quite a good job of relating the angst of adolescents and young adults. The last story in the collection ("Pigeon Feathers") is excellent at exploring a young adolescent's spiritual crisis. Updike is also good at writing about divorce and advanced martial discord, a neglected topic in literature. "Your Lover is Calling" is a particularly clever and entertaining example.

I don't find Updike to be quite as moving as Salinger or Cheever. He tends to over-intellectualize, and some stories ("Lifeguard") simply fail to engage the reader. Other stories ("Killing", the first in the collection) include situations that don't ring true. But Updike is an excellent craftsman and wonderful writer, and this collection does him justice.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the few writers who is also a great reader Feb. 11 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The tone of slightly detached compassion that marks a lot of Updike's fiction is matched by his reading style. It is unhurried, conversational, intimate. It is a pleasure to be in his company for extended periods of time. His novels strike me as wildly uneven (though I always admire the ambition), the short stories have maintained a remarkable level of quality and freshness of observation. It has been something of a privilege to watch his perspective mature over his lifetime. Not that there was anything flip or juvenile about his early stuff, but he has seemed to relax into the impression of easier mastery.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite literary author July 21 2007
By Scurjovgawd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
John Updike is, in my opinion, amazing in his ability to phrase, in prose, nuance of experience. One of the great, and my favorite, fiction writers.
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a listen Dec 18 2011
By Ash Ryan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I can't say I loved them, but these stories are generally very well written, and most of them are interesting enough. Worth a listen. Three and a half stars.
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