Poorhouse Fair Paperback
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“A first novel of rare precision and real merit . . . a rich poorhouse indeed.”—Newsweek
“Turning on a narrow plot of ground, it achieves the rarity of bounded, native truth, and comes forth as microcosm.”—Commonweal
“Brilliant . . . Here is the conflict of real ideas; of real personalities; here is a work of intellectual imagination and great charity. The Poorhouse Fair is a work of art.”—The New York Times Book Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
John Updike was the author of more than sixty books, eight of them collections of poetry. His novels, including The Centaur, Rabbit Is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest, won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in January 2009.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The action takes place on the day of the annual fair, when the residents sell crafts and other goods to the local townspeople. The fair has always been the residents favorite day, although a burden they simultaneously resent. When the fair goes less then well, the residents revolt, albeit in rather passive ways, against their new leader, further delineating the lines between them.
Updike's greatest asset as a writer has always been his love of language and that gift is present even here, his first novel. Unfortunately, the novel lacks the stronger narrative drive he subsequently developed in novels such as the Rabbit series. At times, the novel is confusing and almost free-form in nature. This situation is particularly pronounced in the final third, when the townspeople converge on the poorhouse, introducing a multitude of new characters and stories.
Although brilliantly written, the novel is sluggish at times. At less than 200 pages, it nevertheless took me a relatively long time to struggle through. In the end, I appreciated many qualities of the book, but frankly I didn't really enjoy it. Recommended primarily for Updike completists.
The tensions between the old people and Connor are reminiscent of Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (which was written later than this novel?), in that rebellion against authority is bubbling away all the time. Yet the real joy of the novel for me was the differt interpretations of the meaning of life and of the possibility of an afterlife: one passage in which a younger person cannot comprehend that one of the old women has dispensed with any concept of the utility or value of money, as she is so near death, was particularly thought-provoking.
Worth a read.
In his first novel, we see John Updike about to bloom unto a wonderful writer and most of his themes are here in this slim book: growing old, facing death, thinking about Man and God. I should be able to delve deeper into the themes but I don't read for grand themes, frankly. I read Saul Bellow for the comedy of intellectuals struggling with daily life; I read Iris Murdoch to be among smart folks who seem so damned dumb; and I read Philip Roth for the jolt of the smut from people who should be nicer and holier. That said, I read Updike for the gorgeous language and his mission to catalog the world he sees, like some monk on a mission. Nature is gift to show us how small we are and Updike is here to record everything that catches his gleeming eye.
'The Poorhouse Fair' at first feels like a trifle but it expands after you put the book down. Not to be a jerk, but after reading this book I felt I was watching a commercial for a paper towel expanding, gaining heft and becoming richer after being dipped in a glass of water. Silly, but that's how I feel. Read The Poorhouse Fair, put it down and then read 'Of the Farm' and then get cracking on the Rabbit novels. When you're done with those, we'll talk about 'Couples', and 'Towards the End of Time', and ...
Most recent customer reviews
Who but Updike could write a novel about a bunch of grumbling, poor old men and make it a thing of beauty. Read morePublished on April 28 2000 by scott
This was the first Updike book that I have read, and it was worth reading. Don't expect any drastic plot elements to emerge-they don't. Read morePublished on June 15 1999