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Le Lacrime Di Mio Padre (2010)

by John Updike(Favorite Author)
3.71 of 5 Votes: 2
8860889723 (ISBN13: 9788860889720)
review 1: Proustian Reflections on American LifeUpdike, John (2009). My Father’s Tears and Other Stories. New York: Random/Ballantine.Eighteen previously published stories of fifteen to twenty pages make up this posthumous collection. Each one is a gem – not a bad one among them, and that is all the more remarkable because they are superficially about the most mundane aspects of everyday life in America in the twentieth century. Characters go to the store or a dinner party, a class reunion, or have a family vacation in Spain, or join a tour group in India. High drama ensues when one character holds a glance a moment too long, or the electricity goes out at home during a storm, or a character visits his dermatologist. All the action, all the drama, is on the inside. In most cas... morees, the main character reminisces about life and love, time and death, and longs for meanings that never appeared. The main characters are nearly all adult males, most older, retired, or elderly. They remember fumbling through marriages, affairs,and divorces. They are generally alone now, isolated, divorced; feeling dissatisfied and perplexed; facing irrelevance, meaninglessness, and death. A couple of main characters are young boys who describe confusing, impoverished childhoods in the Depression as they try to find meaning in experience, and describe the often pathetic old people that populate their lives. In most stories, the settings are suffocating New England towns where emotions are locked up by traditional roles and relationships. In a big city setting, we see nothing of wild, creative chaos, but only the staid, emotionally constricted lives of the characters. So in a sense, these stories are depressing, since they are all about escaped happiness, longing, loss of meaning, unrealized love, and so forth. But isn’t that how life turns out ultimately, for any thoughtful person? There is a sense of sharp self-recognition in the reader. The characters are so alive, and the writing so lyrical, that one becomes deeply immersed. Marveling at the writing, I sometimes got stuck re-reading a single paragraph for a half hour. For example:“The worst seemed to be over when, in mid-afternoon, his computer died under his eyes. The financial figures he had been painstakingly assembling swooned as a group, sucked into the dead blank screen like glittering water pulled down a drain. Around him, the house seemed to sigh, as all its lights and little engines, its computerized timers and indicators, simultaneously shut down. The sound of wind and rain lashing the trees outside infiltrated the silence.”The omniscient narrator is strong, even intrusive, so much so that it is difficult to read more than two or three of the stories at a stretch without that narrator becoming tedious. Likewise, the sets become claustrophobic, the tone aridly cognitive-intellectual, and all the characters and locations start to blend into just a few archetypes. The stories are therefore best read in short bursts separated by a day of rest.Nearly all the stories are third person, past tense, omniscient; a form that facilitates a strong narrative voice. One, written from the point of view of a young boy, is third person, present tense, which struck me as awkward and contrived, but maybe that’s just because it is less common. A story about the attacks of 9-11 switches among several points of view, from a grandfather watching the towers fall to one of the hijackers on Flight 93 into Pennsylvania. All the stories are masterpieces.
review 2: First time I read John Updike and I really loved his writing. This is a collection of short stories that have a bittersweet, sunset years feel to it and I really liked it. I especially loved the title story "My Father's Tears" and the last story was my favourite, "The Full Glass". A fun little story called "The Outage" was good too. I think I would have given it 5 stars if I could have read it quicker. I was busy and it took my 2 weeks to read which always affects how I feel about a book. less
Reviews (see all)
Beautiful stories - plucked from lifelong experiences - highly polished language that just sparkles.
Stories about old age, looking back, reflecting on earlier times, written in Updike's later years.
3.5 Stars
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