Friday, December 20, 2013

Love Licks

Having completed reading the four novels in author John Updike's "Rabbit Angstrom" series, I was eager to read the final entry in this series, a novella included in his 2001 book Licks of Love called Rabbit Remembered (which was worth the price of admission all by itself). This book contains, in addition to the novella, a dozen short stories covering a number of different themes (including a parting story in his Henry Bech series). It was an enjoyable read that allowed me to get a broader sense of the author and his approach. If you are a fan already or you are interested in testing his work out before committing yourself to a full novel, this is a great place to start.

The short stories included:
  • The Women Who Got Away: The story of a social clique who all slept around with each other. Trying to be casual and hip, but it all lead to hurt and some perspective.
  • Lunch Hour: Remembrances of coming of age through seeing people at a 40th year high school reunion.
  • New York Girl: The rise and fall of an adulterous affair.
  • My Father on the Verge of Disgrace: The reflections by a man of his father as he came of age. Dad transformed from hero to average Joe doing what he could.
  • The Cats: A son visits his mother's farm after her death and has to deal with a herd of cats. This connects him to his mother again.
  • Oliver's Evolution: A short piece on the evolution of an awkward, sickly boy into a responsible man.
  • Natural Color: About the freedom of a brief affair but the imprisoning after effects.
  • Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War: An American banjo player's view of the world on a goodwill trip to Russia.
  • His Oueve: A final short story regarding Updike's alter ego, Henry Bech. Once last chance to say hello and then a final goodbye.
  • How Was It, Really?: A man in his late 60s looks back on a life devoid of memories as he never allowed himself to be present in the moment.
  • Scenes From the Fifties: A man reflects back on a moment from his youth when he was not yet worldly.
  • Metamorphosis: An odd relationship between a patient and his plastic surgeon.