Set in the near future of 2020, this disconcerting philosophical fantasydepicts an America devastated by a war with China that has left its populace decimated, its government a shambles, and its natural resources tainted. The hero is Ben Turnbull, a sixty-six-year-old retired investment counselor, who, like Thoreau, sticks close to home and traces the course of one Massachusetts year in his journal. Something of a science buff, he finds that his disrupted personal history has been warped by the disjunctions and vagaries of the “many-worlds” hypothesis derived from the indeterminacy of quantum theory. His identity branches into variants extending back through the past and forward into the evolution of the universe, as both it and his own mortal, nature-haunted existence move toward the end of time.
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 stylist of the highest order, capable of illuminating the sublime in the mundane, thereby elevating all of human experience.”—Chicago Tribune “A book aimed not to resolve but to arouse a reader’s wonder . . . Vintage Updike: marital angst worked out against the chilly backdrop of privilege, rendered with a lyricism and insight and eye for detail reminiscent of the work of Jane Austen.”—The Miami Herald “Toward the End of Time has a force that gets under your skin.”—Robert Stone, The New York Review of Books