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The Early Stories: 1953-1975 Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Oct 21 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (Oct. 21 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400040728
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400040728
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 4.6 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,465,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Booklist

All Updike needs is the Nobel Prize to complete his list of major awards. In the very early years of his career, he seemed to spring full fledged as a short story writer, so he can hardly be said to have a body of apprentice work, to which this compilation of his early stories attests. They are mature pieces, and the collection contains several stories still considered masterpieces and which continue to appear in anthologies; these would include, of course, "A & P" and "Pigeon Feathers." What is particularly exciting to see is the publication again of his wonderful Olinger stories, particular favorites of Updike fans and, up to this point, out of print. The collection contains a grand total of 102 stories, and most were originally published in the New Yorker, Updike's basic professional residence during these years. But his New Yorker ties should not be considered a drawback to the enjoyment of his work, for his ingenuity, scope, and heart extend far beyond the island of Manhattan. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“Classic gems . . . These stories, like Mr. Updike’s finest novels . . . preserve a time and a place through the sorcery of words.”—The New York Times
 
“[Updike is] akin to Coleridge and Shelley, only with an American twist. One story at a time, he [reminds] Americans that in spite of life’s largesse, things fail; one sentence at a time, he reveals that through the small details, it can be sublime.”—The Denver Post
 
“Updike’s artistry—normally glimpsed in sections, like a person through window slats—is wholly and deeply seen. . . . One reads through the plenitude with delight, expectation, and at all times gratitude.”—The Atlantic Monthly

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am a long-standing fan of Updike's short stories (though less so of his novels), and my three-star rating of this book is not a reflection of my general opinion of him as a writer. Nevertheless, I do have some issues with this particular volume.

I think that it was a mistake to collect over 100 short stories under one cover with virtually no sieving. Updike made his living from writing and, and as far as I understand, he never held a regular job after he resigned from the New Yorker at the age of 25 - so I would be the last person to blame him for having published some short stories that were not quite to his general standard. When a small collection contains a couple of such works, this is usually not a problem. The situation inevitably becomes different on a scale of 100+ samples: the gap in quality between the best 10 and the weakest 10 of them is massive, and it is impossible not to notice this. I do not think that exposing his lesser works against the background of so many great stories found in this volume has done Updike's standing any good. I own virtually all collections of short stories ever published by him, and in my opinion he emerges a better author from each of his individual early collections than from this volume that combines their content.

I did not like the fact that while putting together this book Updike decided to change a few things here and there. In particular, the last sentence of the wonderful 'Dentistry and Doubt' is way too subtle in its revised version, and I suspect that some readers may now miss the whole point of the ending: I probably would, had I not read the story the way it was originally published.

Giving the hardback a deckle edge was a bad idea.
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By A Customer on March 12 2004
Format: Hardcover
I never much liked Updike's short stories until I started writing short stories myself. Many of the complaints people have with Updike are legitimate. He is usually light on plot. There is virtually no physical action--no fistfights, no murders, no sobbing confessions. But that, to me, is part of Updike's genius.
He always takes the difficult road. He doesn't simply have a husband cheat on his wife; instead, he has the husband worry that he will cheat on his wife, and then he considers the implications. I disagree with critics who accuse Updike of being unemotional. His stories are tangles of pure emotion.
My favorite story in the collection is "Packed Dirt, Churchgoing, A Dying Cat, A Traded Car." It's set up as a series of essays that eventually carry the reader into a story about the author's dying father. It feels like a compilation of random events until you get ot the last line, and then you realize that everything is connected, everything has a purpose. It may be the most beautiful ending I've ever read. (The second most beautiful ending is in "The Happiest I've Been.")
Updike is not for everyone. If you like simple, straightforward stories, read Tobias Wolff (he is amazing in a totally different way). But if you're interested in a world vivid with details--a world with no easy questions, let alone answers--try Updike.
One caveat: read slowly--the magic is more in the words than the paragraphs.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If we want to take in the majesty of these short stories to give them due recognition we must understand Updike the social critic. He was an avid reader of henry james , Nathaniel hawthorne(the scarlet letter)and herman Melville(moby dick, billy budd) as well as being immersed in the religiosity of g.k.chesterton, hilaire belloc and Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and karl barth. Although he was an inveterate protestant he brings a tinge of criticism to the short story and to society to those who want to leave religion out of modern life. The short stories serve to complement these writers who updike grew up on and can be glimpsed in the early story pigeon feathers where the protagonist must dream of a heaven what it will be like our ultimate dreams and rebukes the atheism of h.g.wells and others who updike comes in contact with. The short stories also draw largely especially the early ones on Updike's home life his father and mother, their social and work backgrounds and also his grandparents. In short what strikes the reader is the JAMESEAN Christian consciousness of these short stories which can also be glimpsed in the short story the DEACON where the hero is a sojourner of many Christian churches as a deacon a travelling helper or evangelist more or less but who moves across the country but reluctantly joins another church finally as deacon despite the people he finds in these churches their lukewarm faith but he wins the final battle for at the end for keeping the faith. Updike matured as a short story writer there is a change in motion in these short stories and they are not at the end what they were at the beginnining but he gave up on the wellsian crabs at the end of the time machine a motif in one of the stories to travel in the land of james and the scarlet letter and g.k.chesterton and teilhard to chardin and the protestant imagination and that's where these stories lie and are at their best thought of.They complement the essayist Updike.
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By A Customer on Dec 22 2003
Format: Hardcover
I don't normally write Amazon reviews, but I agree with a previous reviewer that the hoopla for this book is not what it should be. Yes, yes, there are stories in here that don't work; but Updike is extraordinary in his Big Themes, and those come through wonderfully in this volume. I wanted to highlight three of them in this review.
(1) The recurring Richard and Joan Maple stories: Updike has a gift for peaking in on a set of characters every 5 years or so without skipping a beat. This, of course, is what the Rabbit Angstrom books do in novel form. In The Early Stories, Updike does this with the Maples in short story form. In each case, he captures their dialog and sarcastic exchanges as if he is writing their stories at the same time; when in fact they are stretched over twenty years.
(2) Prescient name-dropping: In the Rabbit Angstrom books, Updike fortuitously has the auto dealership affiliated with Toyota in the 1960s, which comes to great use in the 1970s. Here in The Early Stories, there is frequent reference to names which will recur in the future in American history; most interesting, Senator Al Gore (Sr).
(3) Love triangle dynamics: To Updike, the party that loses in a married man/married woman/woman mistress triangle is the woman mistress; he plays out this theme in various scenarios. I would suggest Updike's thesis is different than the norm, but one he writes about repeatedly.
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