My Father's Tears and Other Stories
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A beautiful, moving collection of short stories, in many of which Updike revisits the haunts of his childhood from the vantage point of old age. In 'Fiftieth' old friends reconnect at a class reunion, and one of them is left wondering, 'What does it mean: the enormity of having been children and now being old, living next to death.' In the story 'The Full Glass' the protagonist describes somewhat ruefully the rituals of old age. Before going to bed, he raises his nightly water glass 'drinking a toast to the visible world, his impending disappearance from it be damned.' In 'Varieties of Religious Experiences' a grandfather, visiting his daughter in Brooklyn Heights, watches the tower of the World Trade Centre fall, and his view of a God is forever altered.
Again and again in these memorable stories, Updike strikes to the heart, giving words to what is so often left unsaid. He is at once witty, devastatingly observant, touching - and, of course, a consummate storyteller. This is a collection that will be admired and cherished.
was held up on both sides of the road. We stayed on our side, mere tourists, but interested. It was difficult to see what had happened. Some kind of bundle was eclipsed by a wheel of the truck. Under cover of the tumult when the police fetched the mother, Mark crossed the road and looked. He was pale when he returned to our side of the road. He didn’t make his comical monkey face. We asked him what there was to see. “You don’t want to see it,” was his answer. “It was a little girl,” he later
“In this country,” he explained, “you never see silk stitches any more.” Why was this unlucky event—being mugged and injured in a foreign land—so pleasing to Fairchild? It was, he supposed, the element of contact. In his universe of accelerating expansion, he enjoyed less and less contact. Retired, he had lost contact with his old associates, full of sociable promises though their partings had been. His children were adult and far-flung, and the grandchildren within his reach had only polite
a good student, but less erratically and noisily so. He spoke no more than he needed to, and talkative Kern, so excitable the words sometimes jammed together in a stutter, had realized that Ned was his best friend only when he realized that silence was the other boy’s natural, companionable mode. Ned’s head was full of unvoiced thoughts; they were for him a reservoir of strength. He had become a lawyer, a professional keeper of secrets. The three other guests were seated at the table, their
holy man proceed up and down the stairs all day long? Wasn’t there any law in India against indecent exposure? Or was it legal on sacred sites, in the vicinity of a giant nude statue whose penis, the guidebook calculated, was six feet long? Preoccupied by these questions, Milford felt himself being passed. A body brushed past his. He was being passed by a youngish woman in khaki slacks and white running shoes and a yellow baseball hat tipped rakishly forward on her head, as if her hair were too
when the procession halted and drummed and trumpeted as if to renew its supernatural sanction, the circling, sweating, blank-faced priests. One of them looked anomalously fair, grimacing and squinting through the smoke of incense in a skeptical modern manner—a convert, perhaps, except that Hinduism, in its aloof hundreds of millions, accepted no converts. The procession, after one last noisy pause, hurried down the corridor to Shiva’s sanctuary, where non-Hindus were forbidden to follow.