From the Publisher
“Classically Updike . . . written with fluidity and humor, intelligence and wit about the elusiveness of happiness, contentment, grace.”—Newsday
“Here . . . one last time . . . are the cardinal virtues of a writer who bestrode the American literary landscape for more than a half century: a virtuosic talent for sensual description, the seemingly effortless weaving of image and theme, and an almost Proustian capacity to absorb the reader in the quiddities of childhood and adolescence.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“A self-conscious salute to a grand career of imagining and gorgeously describing our America, along with a wink of gratitude to those readers who have shared the journey.”—The Washington Post
…a perfect bookend to Pigeon Feathers, the precocious collection of stories that nearly five decades ago announced their 30-year-old writer's discovery of his own inimitable voice…Mr. Updike writes in these stories…with the quiet assurance of someone in complete control of his craft…he sticks here to what he does best: memorializing the mundane, the ordinary joys and sorrows and confusions of suburban middle class life, the quiet ticktock of human life as the 20th century unfurled, from the somnolent '50s through the turbulent '60s and '70s, into the complacencies of the '80s and '90s and the violent contortions of the millennium.
The New York Times
Like his earlier novel Villages, this book holds up to the sunlight and gently turns objects Updike has considered before, seeing glimmers and refractions that are slightly different from those he had formerly put down on paper. As such, My Father's Tears is a self-conscious salute to a grand career of imagining and gorgeously describing our America, along with a wink of gratitude to those readers who have shared the journey. And its last line is all Updike: "If I can read this strange old guy's mind aright, he's drinking a toast to the visible world, his impending disappearance from it be damned."
The Washington Post
Updike compresses the strata of a life in his delicately rendered, tremendously moving posthumous collection. In "Free," the memory of a life-affirming affair buckles against a man's loyalty to his deceased wife: he recognizes that becoming a "well-bred stick" offers more consolation in old age than the sluggish arousal of his sensuality. In "The Accelerating Expansion of the Universe," the retired protagonist, depressed by what he perceives as the universe's indifference to human affairs, is done in by the accumulated detritus of his life. Many characters are haunted by a sense of isolation, such as the protagonist of "Personal Archaeology," who roams his Massachusetts estate, searching for traces of previous ownership while sifting through his own petty contribution, or the emotionally stranded absentee landlord of an Alton, Pa., family farm in "The Road Home," who returns after 50 years and finds himself lost in his hometown. From "Kinderszenen," which depicts the anxious time of smalltown late 1930s, to "Varieties of Religious Experience," in which a grandfather watches the twin towers fall, time ushers in brutal changes. With masterly assurance, Updike transforms the familiar into the mysterious. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The late Pulitzer Prize winner's posthumously published collection of short fiction features 18 reflective stories that have all previously appeared in print—ten in The New Yorker and all but one in the last nine years. Updike fans will revel in the feeling of the author standing beside them as they listen, acknowledging long-lost characters and reflecting on the direction his own life took. Shakespearean actor Luke Daniels provides a solemn voice and steady pace appropriate for the mundane details so artfully celebrated by this author. A somewhat uneven collection recommended for Updike devotees; those not already smitten with the author will not find reason to be here. [The Knopf hc received a starred review, LJ 4/15/09.—Ed.]—Carly Wiggins, Allen Cty. P.L., Fort Wayne, IN
Reflection and reconsideration abound in the late (1932-2009) great author's final finished collection of stories. The mood is unmistakably autumnal, as we encounter elderly males who explore familiar surroundings and simultaneously consolatory and troubling memories ("Personal Archaeology," "The Road Home," "My Father's Tears"); straying husbands burdened by conflicted remembrance of long-ago thrills ("Free," "The Walk with Elizanne"); and seniors abroad, adapting timidly yet eagerly to the promises and threats of cultures that are foreign in a dizzying multiplicity of ways ("Morocco," "Spanish Prelude to a Second Marriage"). Just as a representative Updike youngster intuits that he "can never be an ordinary, everyday boy," so do his counterparts at the far end of the aging spectrum clearly foresee their own absorption into the universal and infinite. Among the more telling examples: the victim of a mugging while vacationing in Spain, who understands that-like the physically universe ultimately reducible to the prophecies of "cosmic theory"-he is simply wearing out ("The Accelerating Expansion of the Universe"); the psoriasis patient helped by an innovative treatment ("Blue Light") which reconciles him to his place as an integral part of an ever-changing world; and the near-octogenarian who relives his early years as a prelude to surrendering their continuation in his senescence ("The Full Glass"). There are missteps: stories too discursive to bear much dramatic weight, and a gathering of involved perspectives of the 9/11 catastrophe that seems a test run for Updike's 2006 novel Terrorist. But the ache of knowing and celebrating how we've lived, what it all may mean and where we're goinggive this final testament a beauty and gravity that crown a brilliant, enduring life's work and legacy. A fine final act. First printing of 50,000