Museums and Women gathers twenty-nine short stories from the 1960s and early 1970s. It is John Updike’s most various collection, a book as full of departures and surprises as the historical period that produced them. Some stories, such as the title piece, have the tone and personality of essays. Others objectify the chimeras of middle-class life, especially life in a fictional New England enclave called Tarbox. The illustrated jeux d’esprit in the section called “Other Modes” place Updike somewhere between Robert Benchley and Donald Barthelme as a toymaker in prose. Crowning the collection are five scenes from the marriage of Richard and Joan Maple, a story sequence with the narrative interest and cumulative power of a novel.
John Updike was the author of more than sixty books, including collections of short stories, poems, and criticism. His novels have been honored with the Pulitzer Prize (twice), the National Book Award, and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Hugging the Shore, an earlier collection of essays and reviews, received the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. He died in January 2009.
“Possesses those distinctive Updike qualities—sensuous detailing, a vocabulary one savors, diction that ranges from the laconic to the rococo, and a sure eye for the sorrows and complexities of childhood and married life.”—The Washington Post
“[These] stories are extremely readable, not one of them without some moments of dazzling minute observation, some sudden glide of psychological percipience, some abrupt accuracy about the harassments and consolations of day-to-day living.”—The New York Times Book Review “[Updike] 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.”—The Hudson Review