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I don't know if I have the courage to say anything critical about John Updike. I mean - this is the guy who wrote the Rabbit novels and The Witches of Eastwick, among other literary bestsellers. But there is just something - demeaning? - about him. Updike addresses the issues of his life in this collection, of aging and losing friends and letting go. But there's a bite to him, especially about women, that has always put me off. (And yet I can't help myself - I keep coming back.)
It's lines like this in the opening story, "Leila had, he saw as he watched her talk and gesture, become vulgar, in the way of a woman with not enough to do but think about her body and her means." Hum, Or this one, "the squint lines in her face were deepening, exaggerating an increasingly frequent expression, that of a slightly deaf person who blames you for not speaking louder."
I mean - it's brilliant - that's what keeps me coming back, but there is just something painful here. Maybe all good literature has "just something painful." I recommend it, of course. You can't fight the force that is John Updike, but prepare to go to a dark place while reading his final collection of short stories - My Father's Tears and Other Stories by John Updike.