Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (1 of 6), Read 20 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Sunday, June 24, 2001 10:07 PM I'm about halfway through this, and thoroughly enjoying it. If it's lacking just a bit in the migodwhatawonderfulphrase department, it makes up for it in the sincerity department. This is one Updike I'd never heard of before it was mentioned here. Does anyone know where it fits chronologically within his works? Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (2 of 6), Read 16 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sara Sauers (stsauers@att.net) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 07:25 AM Ruth, I think this one comes almost right in the middle between RABBIT, RUN and RABBIT REDUX. I've noticed that Updike often makes his main male character about his own age at the time of his writing - or at least within 10 years or so. I read OF THE FARM in an extended sitting a week or so ago and liked it very much. I will say more when I know you are done. Sara
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (3 of 6), Read 11 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 09:17 AM It certainly stands in stark contrast to The Witches of Eastwick, doesn't it, Ruthie? Steve
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (4 of 6), Read 12 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 09:45 AM Ruth, Unlike you, I thought this novella was packed with beautifully turned phrases. What a treat this book was. I think, of all the Updike stories I've recently read, this one 'strips' the characters more than the others. There's an emotional 'nakedness' here. I think the most striking point made is that we never really break free from the captivity of our parents and our upbringing. I know I'm struggling here, but I've just now finished reading OTF and haven't had time to sort my thoughts, but I think this book has a lot to do with freedom, or the lack thereof, at a real gut level. I'll gather my thoughts a bit better and be back. Beej
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (5 of 6), Read 13 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 09:55 AM I wanted to add, in Conversations With Updike (yes, I'm pushing this little book...it deserves it) Updike says on more than one occasion that Of The Farm is really..at least in his mind..a follow up to The Centaur. I may go pick this up at the library later today just to see for myself what he means. Beej
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (6 of 6), Read 8 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 10:39 AM Now that my thoughts have solidified a tiny bit, I also think this is a story of time and tenses.. how past, present and future do not really exist separately from one another, no matter how much we would like them to do so. Beej
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (7 of 15), Read 16 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 12:32 PM I finished last night. Yes, Beej, the book is, as you say, "packed with beautifully turned phrases," but they seem far more subtle to me than some of Updike's other writing, more integrated into the flow perhaps. Less a sense of JU himself, executing a quadruple verbal axel and looking out of the corner of his eye for the applause. "Naked" is a good way to describe these characters. I kept thinking "honest." This is an honest book. Almost no reliance on the fireworks of sex and adultery (except the affair which resulted in Joey's marrying Peggy). This is nitty gritty stuff. Stevo, this is much more up my alley than witches. Sara? About the ending? Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (8 of 15), Read 10 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 02:36 PM Ruth, Have you read The Centaur? I picked this up because I really want to see how it ties into Of The Farm. I feel other's interest in Updike might be waning a bit, but I warn you, I'm in this until the end. Beej
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (9 of 15), Read 11 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 02:48 PM No, I haven't read the Centaur. You're in this until the end? Woman, do you realize how much JU has written? Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (10 of 15), Read 14 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 04:59 PM I know I can read faster than he can write..Eventually I should catch up! right? Beej
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (11 of 15), Read 14 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 05:02 PM Beej: I'm rooting for you! He's written "only" 50 books, I think, so you've polished off some 10% of his output in the past several weeks alone. {G} >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (12 of 15), Read 16 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 05:10 PM Well, I have to read SOMETHING! Why not the best? As I read on with Conversations With Updike, I've begun to realize this man doesn't just write beautiful phrases, he actually speaks and obviously thinks in beautiful phrases. He also says he writes quickly and rarely re-writes. This stuff just flows from the man naturally. I wonder if he made up bedtime stories for his children. Beej
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (13 of 15), Read 17 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 05:12 PM AND! I'm on my ninth Updike novel! (I can do this..I know I can..I'm fired up.) Beej
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (14 of 15), Read 12 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 05:17 PM Any writer who says he doesn't rewrite lies. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (15 of 15), Read 13 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Monday, June 25, 2001 05:18 PM Actually he said that at one point and then contradicted himself later. Beej
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (16 of 29), Read 17 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sara Sauers (stsauers@att.net) Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2001 08:09 AM Beej and Ruth - I'm with you on preferring this style of Updike's to that of WITCHES, which I read a few years ago. It's the way he bares the core of these lovers, husbands, wives and family that keeps me hooked on his writing. I thought it was a wonderful touch that the events in this book were, in a way, watched over by the large portrait of the first wife, Joan, that hung upstairs in the stepson's bedroom. I was surprised that Updike never placed Peggy in that room to deal with that portrait. But maybe that would have been too easy. The late night conversation between Joey and his mom near the end of the book, where we learn of Joey's ambivalence about his decision to leave one woman for another was especially powerful, I thought. On page 138, while he is talking to his mother about leaving Joan: "I knew it was a mistake even before it was too late to change... But it had gone so far that, I guess it was Daddy's stubbornness, I was damned if I'd back out." And just a bit later, from Joey's mother: "'You've taken a vulgar woman to be your wife.' It was true." (I know this doesn't sound ambivalent, but given other events in the book where he seems to be happy that he married Peggy, it appears to me that he isn't sure about what he did.) Too many women in one farmhouse. I'm curious now, too, about THE CENTAUR. Sara
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (17 of 29), Read 16 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2001 10:46 AM ""I knew it was a mistake even before it was too late to change... But it had gone so far..." That was such a telling phrase, wasn't it, Sara? How many of us have gotten ourselves into the same pickle? You know, I think one reason I like this one so much is that so much of it is representative of universal, or at least widespread, truths---once you abstract from this very particular situation. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (18 of 29), Read 16 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sara Sauers (stsauers@att.net) Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2001 03:21 PM Ruth, Yes, widespread truths, but not those that you can find many people to talk about. Though I have had one friend admit to me that she knew she was making a mistake as she was walking down the aisle! I thought that Joey, his mom, and Peggy talked about Joan an awful lot compared to families I know in that situation. I'm not so sure it's a great idea. I would have thought so at one point in my life, but probably not now. Sara
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (19 of 29), Read 18 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2001 03:27 PM Well, now you have two friends who admit that they knew they were making a mistake when walking down the aisle. Actually, I knew that morning. Yes, they did talk about Joan quite a bit. Not very tactful. But then nobody in this story, except perhaps the kid, was long on tact. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (20 of 29), Read 19 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2001 03:32 PM Ruth & Sara: "I knew it was a mistake even before it was too late to change... But it had gone so far..." I sure know the name of that tune. Apparently this aspect of human nature is nothing new, though. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is from Paul, writing in Corinthians: The things that I would do, I do not. The things that I would not, these I do. Sounds spot-on, to me. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (21 of 29), Read 18 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Gail Singer (gailsinger_gross@hotmail.com) Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2001 03:57 PM greetings ALL.. after reading this thread.. i have more curious about JOHN UPDIKE than i ever had!! hip hip hooray for CR! gail..a p r
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (22 of 29), Read 21 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2001 06:53 PM This is an awfully good novel, gail, and relatively short. If you ever have any desire to sample Updike, this would be a good place to start, I think. Actually, my estimation of it has risen while discussing it with Sara. Maybe Nicholson Baker is close to correct when he claims it's a perfect novel. These four characters are very vividly done, particularly the mother, whom I find the most interesting by far. A great biblical quotation, Dale! I'm putting it on my list of possible epitaphs. Steve
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (23 of 29), Read 16 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Dale Short (dshort@bham.rr.com) Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2001 07:10 PM Go, Steve! I would say there's no possible copyright infringement with the apostle Paul, as he has been quoted at every funeral I've been to in the past two years, denominations aside, and in one brief eulogy that I had the privilege of delivering myself. Old Paul is now taking his lumps from contemporary biblical scholars, but I swear, he was onto something. >>Dale in Ala.
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (24 of 29), Read 9 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2001 07:36 AM I'm half way done with The Centaur (more on this one, later. Wow! Is this ever a unique book!) and see the farm and the son as the main tie between the two novels. I want to go back, find and compare details between the two books, and then go through Conversations With Updike to see how Updike links them together. My kids are on summer vacation and so I don't have the time to do this sort of thing as I did when they were in school, so it might take me awhile. Sara, Your observation concerning Joan's portrait was a great one! Somehow, I think the mother is using Joan as a way of keeping the past alive for Joey and I think it has to do with keeping Joey tied to the farm. The farm is everything in this book. Beej
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (25 of 29), Read 10 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Sara Sauers (stsauers@att.net) Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2001 07:52 AM So, Beej, are you recommending THE CENTAUR? I can't quite tell! Sara
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (26 of 29), Read 11 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2001 07:57 AM Well, yes! I would love to discuss this with y'all! But to forewarn you, its ODD!..mostly because it has mythology interwoven throughout..the myth of Chiron ( the top gun of the centaurs) and his relationship to Prometheus. Updike includes a mythological index at the end of the book. I'm not quite certain why he included the mythology. I think this one will make for an interesting discussion. (I think I read that The Centaur is Updike's favorite of all his novels.) Beej
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (27 of 29), Read 9 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2001 08:09 AM I also picked up John Updike's memoirs Self-Consciousness because of Of The Farm and The Centaur. I'll explain why after I finish reading it. Beej
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (28 of 29), Read 8 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Steve Warbasse (wk4@qwest.net) Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2001 08:10 AM My paperback copy of The Centaur sits proudly on my shelf here. The bookmark is at page 108, a little past the half way point. I have never finished it. I would certainly be willing to give it another try. That novel and his first short story collection, Pigeon Feathers, used to show up in college syllabi routinely. I think that may have something to do with my resistance to them. Need to get over that. Steve
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (29 of 29), Read 6 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2001 08:16 AM I can see why this book can bog a reader down ..The mythology, at first, is difficult to sort out, but it becomes clearer as you go on. In Conversations With Updike (I'm beginning to feel like a book promoter with this one!) Updike is repeatedly questioned about the addition of this mythology and is quite adamant about its importance. Beej
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (30 of 32), Read 10 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: R Bavetta (rbavetta@prodigy.net) Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2001 11:51 AM Mythology. Groan. I'm not sure about this one now. I have read Pigeonfeathers, and can recommend it. Ruth "We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies." John Updike
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (31 of 32), Read 11 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2001 11:55 AM The mythology is actually a rather small part of the book, Ruth. And the rest is worth the journey through that..Please..go ahead, be a good sport and read it with me! Beej
Topic: Of the Farm, by John Updike (32 of 32), Read 12 times Conf: CONSTANT READER From: Beej Connor (connorva@mindspring.com) Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2001 11:56 AM In fact, you could probably skim over the mythology parts and not miss much..which makes me wonder why it was included in the first place. (Though, I must add, I am not finished with The Centaur and, therefore, cannot say with certainty that it doesn't all tie in at the end and become more relevant.) Beej