The title of John Updike’s first short story collection, published when the author was twenty-seven, alludes to the old superstition that you should enter and leave a house by the same door. Thus John Nordholm, the alternately shy and brash hero of the first story here, is also the narrator of the last. Yet there is a sense in which all sixteen of these stories knock at the same door, a door that in “Dentistry and Doubt” swings open, and in “Toward Evening” remains shut. The characters are polite, nervous, diffident, as if life—or at least youth, for they are all young—were a discomfiting wait in the anteroom of the absolute. The majority of these stories depict encounters between strangers and their unexpected effects, which can be as concrete as a roomful of flowers or a bottle of wine, or as intangible as a miracle or a dream.
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.
“John Updike is a poet; his prose is lean and lapidary—in some cases almost engineered, like a fine, jeweled watch. Its unfragile delicacy is exactly what is needed to convey his insights whole, as in a picture or a poem. The abused term ‘artistry’ may be here correctly applied.”—Saturday Review
“Striking . . . brilliant . . . They somehow reminded me of those unforgettable stories in James Joyce’s Dubliners.”—New York Post “Few recent young authors have written more perceptively about . . . the conflicts of the human heart. . . . The Same Door is a significant book . . . as solid as it is refreshing.”—The New York Times Book Review