Pigeon Feather


John Updike tells good stories in his new collection, "s." What's more -- or, rather, what helps to make them good -- is his conspicuous devotion to the perilous marksmanship of words.
All readers are bound to be grateful to him for that. He is no Pater and he is no Joyce. Clichés and banalities he knows, have their valued uses in making a story flow. They provide comfortable, reassuring cadences -- and he employs them when he does not want to interrupt our concentration on what's going on with a trip to the dictionary or a muttered what-the-devil-does-that-word mean.
Time and again, though, he finds just the right words to give a fresh shine to a familiar situation. He speaks, for ...

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of which, I am happy to report that his publisher felicitously chimes Mr. Updike's Pennsylvania-Dutch tones with a Linotype contribution named for Janson, a Dutchman. And paper made at Spring Grove, Pa.

Over Territory and Time

The stories in "Pigeon Feathers" float from Pennsylvania to England, to New England, to New York, and always back to Pennsylvania. In general outline and under various names the characters are repeated as frequently as characters are repeated when you are reading the works, say, of J.D. Salinger or John P. Marquand.

An iconoclastic schoolteacher father, an indomitable mother, an even more indomitable (if you will) grandmother, a dozing grandfather and a scholarly, slightly girl-shy young man who wants to write are in the original cast. There are parts for children of two generations: the one seen in a mirror, the other viewed from parental altitudes. Eventually, I imagine, that second generation will start writing stories about Mr. Updike's ...

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for the car just when he thought there were no more games for them."

However, I must add that in other stories about men and women Mr. Updike beats that central favorite idea to shreds as he examines lives on his sedulously provincial landscapes.

Those who endure most are those who count most in these stories. They may be callow youngsters who survive an age when their prose styles seem marinated in Swinburne, or persons of a stature with one glorious old lady: "Shaped like a sickle, her life whipped through grasses of confusion and lethargy that in a summer month grew up again as tall as before."


 

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 2/12/2005 04:22:26 PM
Category: English
Type: Free Paper
Words: 2290
Pages: 9

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