All of Updike's retrospective collections are huge, as if nothing could be discarded, and this one is no exception. The title is somewhat misleading. "Early stories" suggests juvenilia or apprentice work, but Updike's famously elegant and evocative prose style apparently emerged full blown with his first New Yorker publication. A more accurate title would be Classic Updike. Most of Updike's best-known stories are here, including "Pigeon Feathers," "The Family Meadow," "Separating," and "The Witnesses." The book opens with the Pennsylvania-based Olinger stories, moves through the anguished Maples saga of marital dysfunction in suburban Tarbox, and concludes with studies of the single life, including "The Bulgarian Poetess," featuring Updike's alter ego, Henry Bech. Stories that originally aimed at slice-of-life immediacy now appear as exquisite genre paintings of a lost America, thanks in part to Updike's strong visual sense. This wonderful collection is arguably the best single-volume introduction to Updike's work available. Highly recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/03.]-Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.