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S stories were collected in 1979 in a paperback edition titled Too Far to Go prompted by a television adaptation Now those stories appear in hardcover for the first time with the addition of a later story “Grandparenting” which returns us to the Maples’s lives long after their wrenching divor. It s been ages since I read any Updike To use an analogy because Updike would reading this story cycle of the marriage of Joan and Richard Maple is like drinking an Old Fashioned It tastes a bit dated a bit nostalgic but it s still strong and somehow delicious Whiskey cut by bitters and the sweet artificiality of a maraschino cherry These stories are everything I associate with Updike s fictional world that patrician New England setting crackling dialogue overly ornate sentences but occasionally the most nuanced and insightful moment into human nature In his own introduction to the collection Updike describes his characters as being incorrigibly themselves despite the social changes of the decades and the long years of being uneasily yoked together in marriage He demonstrates that incorrigibility of personality so beautifully I think that marriage is always a worthy subject for the writer and I thoroughly enjoyed Updike s take on it

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The Maples Stories

Collected together for the first time in hardcover these eighteen classic stories from across John Updike’s career form a luminous chronicle of the life and times of one marriage in all its rich emotional complexityIn 1956 Updike published a story “Snowing in Greenwich Village” about a young. Some of my favourite books consist of linked short stories from Elizabeth Strout s Olive Kittredge and Alice Munro s Who Do You Think You Are to Susan Minot s MonkeysI find this format very satisfying perhaps because it mimics real life Most of our lives aren t structured like grand novels with well written beginnings middles and ends they re a collection of snapshots or moments The best fiction makes you feel like characters lives keep going after you ve read about them and the linked story collection confirms this leaving most of the unimportant stuff out You don t need an overarching narrative to make a book or people s lives have significanceOver a period of several decades John Updike wrote a total of 17 stories about the upper middle class US East Coast couple Joan and Richard Maple He published them in magazines mostly The New Yorker and in different collections and then gathered them anew in this book in 1979 One final Maples story was written in 1994 then added to future editionsUpdike would check in on the Maples his domestic alter egos every few years to see how their lives were working out He chronicles their early marriage their enduring love their affairs their vacations their awkward faux pas their expanding family and waistlines their minor illnesses their separation their divorce and finally their status as grandparentsAs expected there s a range of styles in the book but most of the stories are written in an observant highly detailed realistic prose Updike can describe things that I never knew it was possible to describe He understands people so well He knows how and why we say one thing when we mean another He can capture anxiety and guilt in a look a gesture one of the interesting stories is called Gesturing a seemingly simple uestion a scrunch of the nose Some stories haven t aged well they feel dated stuck in a particular era of wife and husband swapping Often a symbol will feel a little too obvious The Maples never seen to have money problems which seems unusual One story alludes to among other things Renoir s Bathers Masacchio s Expulsion From The Garden Japanese erotic painting a uote from Rodin Titian s Venus Manet s Olympia We get it John You attended HarvardAnd sometimes his prose can be self consciously ornate and clever almost solipsisticBut I really like this book His characters are flawed but believable I think it was Alice Munro who said that ordinary people have access to excitement through adultery and that s certainly illustrated here There s also a sense of different eras passing Joan gets involved in the civil rights movement The legacy of the Vietnam War lingers You feel the emerging counter culture in a couple of stories The story Separating about Joan and Richard telling their children that they re attempting a trial separation is one of the best stories on this familiar topic I ve probably read it half a dozen times and it still affects meI m hoping to read Updike soon to finish off the Rabbit uartet dip into his poetry and read a couple of the stand alone novels I know his output was uneven He was so prolific it had to be But you can t go wrong with his stories especially these

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Couple Joan and Richard Maple at the beginning of their marriage Over the next two decades he returned to these characters again and again tracing their years together raising children finding moments of intermittent happiness and facing the heartbreak of infidelity and estrangement Seventeen Maple. John Updike has written a brilliantly depressing book about marriage He sure doesn t see marriage in a positive light In these interconnected stories we meet Richard and Joan Maple and follow them through the course of their marriage Courting a wife takes tenfold the strength of winning an ignorant girl The Maples are cruel to each other They play games with each other s feelings They betray each other but they have this weird type of love for each other Richard is never so in love with Joan as when he hears about her bedding other men Oh yes they tell all There is such an aloofness to their connection They caused each other so much hurt it was hard to like either of them I couldn t relate to them but I also couldn t turn away from them Bleeding mangled reverently laid in its tomb a dozen times their marriage could not die We know their marriage will end as it tells us this in the book blurb but to follow along through these stories it was utterly heartbreakingConfession I read Run Rabbit Run by John Updike around 1973 for a college course I remember totally disliking it and have never read another book by him till this one After reading Julie Grippo s review I felt I should give him another chance and I am ecstatic that I didI was around 17 yrs old when I first read him with minimal life experiences This time around I get him and what he is sayingHighly recommended


9 thoughts on “The Maples Stories

  1. says:

    Reading Road Trip 2020Current location MassachusettsI had every intention after leaving behind the state of New Hampshire to travel

  2. says:

    Some of my favourite books consist of linked short stories from Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kittredge and Alice Munro’s Who Do You Think You Are? to Susan Minot’s MonkeysI find this format very satisfying perhaps because it mimics real life Most of our lives aren’t structured like grand novels with well wr

  3. says:

    Too Far To Go is the story of Richard and Joan Maple I generally do not enjoy stories about relationships but I wanted to read something by John Updike and I chose this because the stories span the 60s and 70s the decades of my youth The writing is beautiful and often poetic It made up for how much I disliked both Richard

  4. says:

    John Updike has written a brilliantly depressing book about marriage He sure doesn’t see marriage in a positive light In these int

  5. says:

    Nessuno ci appartiene se non nei ricordi La postfazione di Oliviero Pesce aiuta a collocare temporalmente e defin

  6. says:

    Halfway through this series of short stories about Richard and Joan Maple a couple of educated white perpetually financially comfortable with no explanation of where the money came from or what type of work brought it relati

  7. says:

    This book was my first exposure to Updike and his penetrating glance into American married couples in the 50s to the 70s It was actually a series of articles he published in the New Yorker and so each story stands on its own This collection of 13 of the stories follows the trials and tribulations the betrayals and comprom

  8. says:

    A certain people a certain era Only John Updike to bring them alive like this for me The semi serialized stories a

  9. says:

    It's been ages since I read any Updike To use an analogy because Updike would reading this story cycle of the marriage of Joan and Richard Maple is like drinking an Old Fashioned It tastes a bit dated a bit nostalgic but it's still strong and somehow delicious Whiskey cut by bitters and the sweet artificiality of a maraschino cherry These stories are everything I associate with Updike's fictional world that patrician New England setting cra