In this midcareer collection of twenty-three short stories, John Updike tackles such problems as separation, divorce, and remarriage, parents and children, guns and prostitution, leprosy, swooning, suffocation, and guilt. His self-seeking heroes tend to be forty; his heroines are asleep, seductive, longing, or reproachful. None of these characters is innocent, and all are looking vainly for the road back to an imagined Paradise. Pain and comedy closely coexist in this mainly domestic world of the 1970s, where life is indistinguishable from a television commercial (but what is it advertising?) and every morning’s paper brings news of lost Atlantises.
About John Updike
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.
“A work of really awesome literary cunning . . . Problems won’t be surpassed by any collection of short fiction in the next year, and perhaps not in the next ten. [One feels] gratitude that such a splendid artistic intelligence has been brought to bear on some of the important afflictions of our times.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Updike [is] Wordsworthian, revealing hints of the supernatural in the events of everyday material life. He has braved the great themes, and noticed the unnoticeable, treating both with equal respect, an achievement that does him much honor.”—Margaret Drabble, The Washington Post Book World
“There is no flaw in the way John Updike tells a story; he knows all the ways. . . . He can spin dazzle and excitement out of nothing, if need be, like the dew-glitter of a newly made spider’s web. . . . We owe him a debt of thanks and admiration for the pleasure he has given.”—George Garrett, The Sewanee Review