Robert Spencer for The New York Times
John Updike, who died in January, in a 2006 photo. He addresses the foibles and meditations of old age in two newly published collections.
By MICHIKO KAKUTANI
Published New York Times, May 25, 2009
Fairchild, the hero of one of these fine, elegiac stories by John Updike, who died in January, is an elderly gent, who is mugged and slightly injured while traveling in Spain. He finds the hubbub of the whole experience oddly invigorating.
MY FATHER’S TEARS AND OTHER STORIES
By John Updike
292 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $25.95.
ENDPOINT AND OTHER POEMS
By John Updike
97 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $25.
Fairchild, the hero of one of these fine, elegiac stories by John Updike, who died in January, is an elderly gent, who is mugged and slightly injured while traveling in Spain. He finds the hubbub of the whole experience oddly invigoratingWhy is this unlucky event so pleasing to him? “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 grown up and far-flung, and his grandchildren had only “polite interest” in the treats he could offer. His old poker group had difficulty mustering five players, and his old golf foursome “had been dispersed to infirmity and Florida if not to the grave.”
Indeed, Fairchild realizes that he has been “islanded”: “If a heart attack or a catastrophic downturn in the market were to overtake him, he would be left clutching the telephone while shimmering streams of Vivaldi or, even more insultingly, soupy instrumental arrangements of old Beatles standards filled the interminable wait for the next available service representative.”
Read the complete story here.