Sunday, April 02, 2006

"On the Sidewalk" by John Updike

April Fool? OK--it's not really Jack Kerouac; it's John Updike imitating On the Road, of course, when Updike was very young and Kerouac was still a new sensation. Bet we didn't fool anyone. Read by Scoot. Time 6:34.

John Updike, John Updike, John Updike: prolific, prolix (perhaps), and peculiarly poetic to plenty of people. His short stories tend to get overshadowed by his novels, especially the more lapinate ones, but At the A&P is still deservedly in lots of anthologies out there and many of his humorous or more sardonic pieces (such as this) can be found beyond the pages of the New Yorker, his home away from home for so many years. His territory may be a little north and a little cautious of John Cheever (another writer we have yet to get to here), but it is somewhat similar in its examination of middle-class angst and couples on the brink of divorce or worse. And that's the furthest we're going to examine the many works of Mr. Updike--most of which we haven't read! Just find one of his books, read the jacket flap, and you'll know the rest.


Damon LaBarbera said...

I am not sure that characterizing him as dwelling on middle class angst is correct. I find a sort of transcendent feel to a lot of his stories, a sense of renewel and joy against the backdrop of every life and its travails. He seldom seems flip to me--what is interesting, in that he avoids the cliches associated with the usual description of bourgeois existence, and treats it with sensitivity. And how can you write about modern life, anyway, without acknowledging divorce, affairs, and so forth.

Scoot said...

Let's agree.. to agree! That is, we don't think our separate opinions are mutually exclusive. We do believe Mr. Updike can be transcendent (about all classes, actually), and this story is probably a somewhat rare example of his being as flippant as we are. (Remember--he was still quite young when he wrote this.) It would indeed be difficult to be able to write about modern life without acknowledging at least some of the universal problems of modern life, and as you might see in these web pages, not too often attempted or done.

We hope you'll tune in now and then and meet other authors, perhaps a few less well-known, who are both transcendent and flippant in turn.