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The Early Stories: 1953-1975
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ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“He is a religious writer; he is a comic realist; he knows what everything feels like, how everything works. He is putting together a body of work which in substantial intelligent creation will eventually be seen as second to none in our time.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€ÂWilliam H. Pritchard, The Hudson Review, reviewing Museums and Women (1972)
A harvest and not a winnowing, The Early Stories preserves almost all of the short fiction John Updike published between 1954 and 1975.
The stories are arranged in eight sections, of which the first, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“Olinger Stories,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â already appeared as a paperback in 1964; in its introduction, Updike described Olinger, Pennsylvania, as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“a square mile of middle-class homes physically distinguished by a bend in the central avenue that compels some side streets to deviate from the grid pattern.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â These eleven tales, whose heroes age from ten to over thirty but remain at heart Olinger boys, are followed by groupings titled ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“Out in the World,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“Married Life,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“Family Life,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â tracing a common American trajectory. Family life is disrupted by the advent of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“The Two Iseults,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â a bifurcation originating in another small town, Tarbox, Massachusetts, where the Puritan heritage co-exists with post-Christian morals. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“Tarbox TalesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â are followed by ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“Far Out,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â a group of more or less experimental fictions on the edge of domestic space, and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“The Single Life,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â whose protagonists are unmarried and unmoored.
Of these one hundred three stories, eighty first appeared in The New Yorker, and the other twenty-three in journals from the enduring Atlantic Monthly and HarperÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s to the defunct Big Table and Transatlantic Review. All show Mr. UpdikeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â„Â¢s wit and verbal felicity, his reverence for ordinary life, and his love of the transient world.
From the Hardcover edition.
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