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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Elegy
Can it really be that this will be the last time we come fresh to a work of John Updike's? Can it be that the author who has chronicled the decades for us, whose shrewd, pointed and yet loving dissections of our frailties is now a part of our history rather than our present?

Yet another collection of achingly poignant and beautifully observed short stories...
Published on 19 July 2010 by mark pope

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3.0 out of 5 stars Some good insights about ageing, but rather a lot of repetition
Unlike many collections of short stories, this volume has a recognisable theme - ageing, the passage of time, and family relationships across generations - which links most of the individual stories. The title story, `My father's tears', typifies many of the others: a man in his seventies recalls how his father wept when he left for college, and this leads him on to a...
Published 4 days ago by James


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Elegy, 19 July 2010
This review is from: My Father's Tears and Other Stories (Paperback)
Can it really be that this will be the last time we come fresh to a work of John Updike's? Can it be that the author who has chronicled the decades for us, whose shrewd, pointed and yet loving dissections of our frailties is now a part of our history rather than our present?

Yet another collection of achingly poignant and beautifully observed short stories. Yet another assembly of profoundly lyrical and yet economical prose dissecting the human condition. Goodness we will miss him.........
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Updike on top form in his Autumn years, 24 Aug 2010
This review is from: My Father's Tears and Other Stories (Paperback)
This is a marvellous selection of short stories made more so by the fact that the author is one of the finest of his time and also by the fact that he is nearing the end of his days and so is able to draw upon a wealth of experience and insight few others could match. Each story has its own particular charm but there is a constant theme of reflection upon fate and missed opportunities that is simultaneously heart-warming and saddening. I am still working my way through Updike's work but would recommend this collection to anyone who is curious about his style and his undoubted influence on the contemporary world of storytelling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Famous last words, 1 Jun 2011
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reader 451 - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Father's Tears and Other Stories (Paperback)
My Father's Tears is Updike's last book of short stories, published a few months after he died. That it is a posthumous work is poignant: a collection of fictional memories and old age anecdotes, it exudes a before-the-grave redolence, a sense that the author knew these were his last moments in this world. The stories are unconnected, but they all have aging men as protagonists, they all are about looking back or dealing with one's declining years.

My Father's Tears' tone and style is not, say, that of a Raymond Carver, made of tiny crucial twists and hinging on odd but telling details and situations. Rather, these are pedal-tone codas, sepia pictures of remembered depression and war-era childhoods, ruminations on a changed world. The lens is turned towards long-buried relationships only evoked again thanks to a glimpsed suburban alley, a school reunion; or, kaleidoscope-like, it sees dissolved family bonds reconfigure under new, variegated patterns.

Most of the stories are set in small East Coast towns, and the reader could be forgiven for believing the divorce rate in New England is 100%, with everyone having affairs the whole community knows about, but fair enough: painful emotional choices make for more engaging fiction. In the middle of the book is a piece about 9/11: slightly eye-rolling, but I suppose American authors felt they had to do that. Nor is the collection devoid of an autobiographical air. I found the stories got better towards the end, that their pace became more varied and their lessons richer. Perhaps it is just that one gets into their slow, nostalgic stride, or that the message sinks in that old age, the approach of death, are manageable prospects after all. Maybe, retrospectively, this is a book best to be read after the age of forty.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Some good insights about ageing, but rather a lot of repetition, 24 Dec 2014
This review is from: My Father's Tears and Other Stories (Paperback)
Unlike many collections of short stories, this volume has a recognisable theme - ageing, the passage of time, and family relationships across generations - which links most of the individual stories. The title story, `My father's tears', typifies many of the others: a man in his seventies recalls how his father wept when he left for college, and this leads him on to a series of reminiscences involving his now-dead parents and parents-in-law, his first wife (he has long since divorced and remarried), and his school friends, many of whom he still sees at periodic reunions. The story illustrates how memories of specific incidents can trigger deeper feelings about the importance of past relationships, perhaps involving a retrospective re-evaluation of their importance. There is both joy and sadness in such reminiscence; Updike captures such conflicting emotions well in this and many of the other stories in the volume.

Because it combines stories with similar themes, this volume is in some respects greater than the sum of its parts. It offers a sustained reflection on both the good and bad aspects of growing older: on the one hand, pleasure in the ability to reflect at a leisurely pace on the meaning of life and on what has been important in one's own life; on the other hand, awareness of the triviality of any individual life and, perhaps, sadness about missed opportunities. Many of the stories offer variations on this central theme, and as one would expect from Updike, they are beautifully written and contain much insight, often in throw-away remarks by individual characters.

Whilst generally feeling positive about the collection, however, I also have some quibbles. There is a good deal of repetition: for example, attendance at old school reunions features in several of the stories and once you have read the first such episode, those in later stories don't really add much. His lead characters are also generally rather similar: a lot of the stories feature middle-income retired men who have divorced and remarried, and once again there is some feeling of repetition, since not surprisingly the worries and interests of these characters tend to be rather similar from one story to the next. In this respect, perversely, the book is almost less than the sum of its parts: as you read successive stories there is a slight irritation that you are getting more of the same rather than the development or widening of a theme.

I have read quite a lot of Updike's full length novels and have generally enjoyed them, but I hadn't previously read any of his short fiction. On the basis of this single volume, I don't agree with the publisher's blurb which describes him as "the finest short-story writer of his generation": I don't think his short fiction is as good as, for example, Doris Lessing's. However, I enjoyed the collection enough that I will probably read more of his short fiction in future.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Updike sadly missed, 11 Jun 2013
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H. B. Winslow (Scotland UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Father's Tears and Other Stories (Paperback)
Reading this collection of short stories, reminds us of what we have lost in the death of John Updike. However, it also allows to relish and enjoy this enormous talent.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant sign off, 17 July 2011
This review is from: My Father's Tears and Other Stories (Paperback)
This is a charming, tender, and very apposite sign off from America's greatest author.

While not hitting the heights of his great novels, these poignant musings on mortality are wonderful, and the 9/11 story is classic Updike.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very nearly masterful, 6 July 2012
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Rusty (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: My Father's Tears and Other Stories (Paperback)
These stories are extremely well-written, as you'd expect from Updike. His prose is rich and measured, capturing a great deal of nostalgia and insight in small, contained nuggets. I'm giving this book four stars, however, instead of full marks - for two main reasons:

1.) There's a story near the midway point that tries to deal with 9/11, where Updike puts himself in the shoes of the bombers and the victims. I found his approach a bit presumptuous and borderline disrespectful, not only for those who lost their lives in the attack but also for anyone of Islamic persuasion.

2.) There are 18 stories in this collection and every single one of them, to one extent or another, dwells on divorce or infidelity. Updike is well-known for this theme (the Rabbit novels, etc) but couldn't just one of these tales have looked at life from a different angle?

Overall, though, there are some real gems here waiting to be savoured. Standout stories for me would include "Morocco", "The Walk With Elizanne", "Kinderszenen" and "Blue Light".
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Fathers Tears, 10 Sep 2010
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Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Father's Tears and Other Stories (Paperback)
This collection from Updike's last years show what a master of fiction he was right until the end. These short stories offer up some wonderful episodes of human life and seem to be tinged with a certain sadness that I adore in his writing. They seem grounded in reality and the harsh realities of life, and yet they still revel in the small moments of triumph life can bring. There is a story here based around the 911 attacks and I found this to be particularly moving, not so much for it's themes, but for Updike's incredible writing skills. Apart from the aforementioned story, it is hard to single any one story out for special praise as they are all so excellently written and draw you into their world for the duration of your reading. His writing is deeply poetic and the amount of times I marvelled at a certain turn of phrase or pondered upon an image he conjured up are staggering in what is essentially quite a short book. This would make for a wonderful introduction to his works (I recently read a short story collection of his that had 5 stories in it which had whetted my appetite and drew me to this), but no doubt you will want to track down some more of his writing afterwards and I am going to try a novel next as I want to get fully involved in a world of his creation for longer than the brief snapshot you get in these short stories. I honestly can't wait to read some more and recommend this particular book highly indeed.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 31 Oct 2014
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Balint Andras Varga (Wien) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Father's Tears and Other Stories (Paperback)
John Updike was a wonderful writer, as demonstrated by this selection of short stories.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Vapid transit, 10 Oct 2013
This review is from: My Father's Tears and Other Stories (Paperback)
He could still hone a beautiful sentence into old age (the first piece here is far the best) while still banging on endlessly about adultery. This soft porn for the buttoned-up American represents the squandering of a writerly inheritance. The asexual Updike, critic, thinker or poet, has more balls (can I say that?) than the sadly conventional lecher* of the fiction. Hearken to the aged Henry - or his creator - on page 37. '"Well, what is free?" he asked. "I guess it's always been a state of mind.."' This is a man writing with one hand tied behind his back. Compare this excruciating apercu with, say, Ed Park's pungent sagacity in Personal Days. 'There's no such thing as *better*. Haven't we learned that by now? Nothing will ever get better..' Park, we need you. It's getting chilly

* Conceivably I might not mind so much if his characters weren't so darned unappealing. Want a quick porn fix? Read Candy
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My Father's Tears and Other Stories
My Father's Tears and Other Stories by John Updike (Paperback - 27 May 2010)
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