"No longer alive to obstruct the process."
January 30, 2009 7:24 AM   Subscribe

John Updike's death reminded me that I have a book of his short stories. Which ones should I read first?

I have The Early Stories: 1953-1975. In the introduction, Updike says "This is a collection. A selection, surely, is best left to others, when the writer is no longer alive to obstruct the process." Well, he's, um, no longer alive, so if you don't mind, Hive Mind, I'd appreciate your considerable skills in pointing out the best of what's here.

Here's a link to the Table of Contents on Amazon.

I know you've got good taste. What do you like best?
posted by ocherdraco to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A & P. page 596. Definitely.
posted by sharkfu at 7:41 AM on January 30, 2009

He wrote A&P? About the guy who works in the grocery store who quits? We read that in 7th grade...I never knew.

Wife-Wooing is great. Alec Baldwin read it on Selected Shorts...was podcasted a couple of years ago. It's a great, great story.
posted by sully75 at 8:31 AM on January 30, 2009

My favorite besides A&P is "The Orphaned Swimming Pool." Some of the ones in the "Way Out" section are interesting because it's not what you'd expect from Updike.

Most of the "Married life" section is marred by the "Look I'm a middle-aged sad dude- aren't I justified in cheating on my wife? Look how justified I am!!" fixation that I'm sure you're familiar with if you've read anything else by him.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:45 AM on January 30, 2009

Sorry, the section is called "Far Out."
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:46 AM on January 30, 2009

'The Happiest I've Been' was the single story, read in some anthology of best American short stories, that for ever sold me to Updike.

'Should Wizard Hit Mommy' later became a favourite, a bit later. It is not as simple a story as it looks.
posted by ijsbrand at 9:37 AM on January 30, 2009

These ought to get me off to a good start. Thanks.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:45 AM on January 30, 2009

Skip all of them and read Bech: A Book.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:28 PM on January 30, 2009

I loved A&P, can't vouch for anything else.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:40 PM on January 30, 2009

Ooh, I'll have to check out Bech. But for now it's the stories. (I am trying to be a good and proper book reader who reads the books she has.)
posted by ocherdraco at 2:02 PM on January 30, 2009

« Older If an office relationship happens, and no one...   |   What do you call those slush traps? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.