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Updike’s Last Tale

Author John Updike Leaves Behind Collection Of Short Stories After Death

American novelist and short story writer John Updike completed one last colle...

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Above: American novelist and short story writer John Updike completed one last collection of short stories before his death in January 2009.

It is clear after reading this final collection of short stories, "My Father's Tears" written by Updike before his death in January 2009 that he wrote them all too aware of the cruel and swift passage of time. This collection takes place in a myriad of locales, but its common thread are characters who take stock of their lives and the events that they now recognize give shape to them—from the tale of man who revisits the woman with whom he once had an affair, to another who muses over what his land has seen and will see - the lives lived there, and those lives that will call it home in the future.

Updike always amazed with his creation of believable characters, warts and all. The people in “My Father’s Tears” are filled with longing, a tight and looming awareness of their own mortality, wonder at their own hazy beginnings, and the paths their lives have taken. I have always loved Updike’s work—I think he knew how to speak the truth of people’s minds, ugly and uncomfortable as they might be. This collection is particularly a treasure because it feels like a friend's last letter, arriving just after their death—a friend with whom you wished there had been time to share just one more cup of coffee.

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