Licks of Love: Short Stories and a Sequel, "Rabbit Remembered"
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In this brilliant late-career collection, John Updike revisits many of the locales of his early fiction: the small-town Pennsylvania of Olinger Stories, the sandstone farmhouse of Of the Farm, the exurban New England of Couples and Marry Me, and Henry Bech’s Manhattan of artistic ambition and taunting glamour. To a dozen short stories spanning the American Century, the author has added a novella-length coda to his quartet of novels about Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom. Several strands of the Rabbit saga come together here as, during the fall and winter holidays of 1999, Harry’s survivors fitfully entertain his memory while pursuing their own happiness up to the edge of a new millennium. Love makes Updike’s fictional world go round—married love, filial love, feathery licks of erotic love, and love for the domestic particulars of Middle American life.
Nelson lies. “Are you getting a Southern accent yet?” “It’s infectious,” agrees the former computer whiz, now a middle-management tool. “Virginia’s a funny state—half hillbilly and half megalopolis, at the Washington end.” “Like Pennsylvania and Philly,” Nelson offers. “It has a better sense of itself than Pennsylvania. It had all those Presidents, and the Confederate capital, and now the economy is taking off. The skyscrapers they can’t build over in the District are being built across the
brought her in. The house across the street, where the pumpkins and the woman in her bra have shone forth, is dark, empty. The neighbors are away for the holiday, and thus miss seeing the heir leave 89 Joseph Street for good. iv. “O.K., O.K., I lost it,” Ronnie admits to Janice. “There was no reason to be rude, people can’t help how they got born.” “You should call and apologize.” This incident has given her an edge, and anger enough to use it. He had seen in the girl this dead woman he had
industry,” they said—there were more and more pleasant and not very expensive restaurants to eat out at; you didn’t have to go downtown any more as Daddy and Mother used to for a little celebration, usually in one of the two big hotels downtown, the Conrad Weiser or the Thad Stevens. And otherwise the supermarkets sold wonderful frozen meals and sealed salads. “Well, I forgot, if truth be known,” Janice confesses. “I just got back five minutes ago. I’ve been doing so much else, and this morning,
along Locust Boulevard. The hosts were a couple called Jason and Pam and a fag they lived with called Slim.” He wouldn’t say “fag” at work—he has worked with a number of gays, on both sides of the client-caregiver divide, and has no problem with it, once he outgrew the fantasy that they were going to grab his crotch—but being with this girl brings out an older, less p.c. self. “I was with my wife. She was very pregnant, and got drunk and fell down the stairs.” The memory still shames him: he had
strangers, even, who showed up, having worked with the deceased at Verity Press or the Toyota agency or played with or against the dead man in his teen-age prime and who felt enough connection to take a morning out of their own remaining lives) but Dad had loved her, and she him, with the heavy helplessness of blood, that casts us into a family as if into a doom. “The funniest thing, Aunt Mim,” Nelson says over the phone. “It turns out Dad had a baby by the woman he lived with that time and