I am always a little at a loss to review a work like this which has 30 essays, short stories, and poems in it, humorously illustrated by the talented Paul Szep. Obviously, in a thousand words I cannot review each work. However, there's also no relevant way to give you an overview except to say that this is much of the best writing about golf that anyone has ever done, looking beyond how to improve your score. Let me share a few highlights with you, much like you might compliment a golf partner on the best shots in his or her round. Imagine that we are all having a tall cool beverage while I do this after finishing a long, hot round. I thought the funniest work was "Drinking from a Cup Made Cinchey" written in 1959. Updike has obviously had a golf lesson or two, as the other works make clear. This essay is a satire on all of those instructional articles that you find in Golf Digest. Updike begins by pointing out that occasionally there's a slip between cup and lip (but he humorously avoids that phrase). So he takes the simple task of picking up a cup and drinking something from it, and writes it up in golf instructional style. I couldn't stop laughing. I think I got a better idea of the golf swing from this non-golf swing instruction than I ever did from taking a lesson! "Swing Thoughts" from 1984 captures the problems that we all have with using the conscious mind too much, but with more self-consciousness than even the most self-conscious golfer ever had. The part I least agreed with was "The Trouble with a Caddie." Updike doesn't like them, but I find having a caddie one of the pleasures of the game. He dislikes everything from the company to handling the tip. Perhaps it is hard for someone with a solitary occupation like writing to get over that preference for solitude. Book tours must be rough! The best fiction was "Farrell's Caddie" from 1991 with all due respect to the Rabbit Angstrom material that is well known from the Rabbit books. It transcends golf in a valuable way. The best poem was "Upon Winning One's Flight in the Senior Four-Ball" from 1994. Many of Updike's later works look ironically on the effects of our changing golf fortunes as the body starts to produce less and less satisfying golf. This one is very well done without having the negative tone that some of the others do, hinting at decay and death. The book is divided ino three sections: (1) Learning the Game (2) Loving the Game and (3) Playing the Game. The works are about equally distributed among the sections. If you're a golfer, you know that people love to give golf-related gifts but never know what to give. I suggest you solve their problem by putting this book on your Amazon.com wish list. Then on those cold winter's nights, you can curl up with this book to help you conjure up your own golf dreams!
It is comforting for all of us hackers out there to know that one of America`s best modern writers is a fellow hacker who traverses a golf course in zig zags searching for a small white ball and hoping against hope that it has found a favourable lie in the rough and treasuring the occasional miracle when mind and limb combine to produce a perfect golf shot! This collection, thought provoking and amusing by turns is a must for any golfer`s bookshelf deserving a place next to P.G Wodehouses`s golfing stories hosted by the oldest member.
Mick Drake author of the comic novel All`s Well at Wellwithoute
This is my second reading of this book which I originally read several years ago. There are many books about golf and they are generally rather poor. This is a very good one and I remember distinctly how much I enjoyed it and I would certainly have given it 5 Stars. On my present reading I would drop it one and give 4 Stars. I am not sure why I have done so Perhaps the original effect was so explosive that it could never recur with such force. I suspect that any new reader would experience the same explosion and I must recommend it to any such. BUY IT!!! You will never regret it
John Updike has an excellent turn of phrase. He knows and understands the game of golf especially from an Amateur view point. Would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the game of golf and can empathise with its difficulties and frustrations. Nigel