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Of the Farm

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  593 ratings  ·  58 reviews
In this short novel, Joey Robinson, a thirty-five-year-old New Yorker, describes a visit he makes, with his second wife and eleven-year-old stepson, to the Pennsylvania farm where he grew up and where his aging mother now lives alone. For three days, a quartet of voices explores the air, making confessions, seeking alignments, quarreling, pleading, and pardoning. They are ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published July 12th 1987 by Fawcett (first published 1965)
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(showing 1-30 of 883)
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Jason
If you’ve come for plot, you’ve come to the wrong place. There is a plot in this novel, of course, though it’s simple, uninteresting to imagine: a man takes his new wife and stepson to visit his cantankerous mother who lives on a farm in Pennsylvania. But that’s not why you read Updike, or at least this Updike, looking for an exciting plot. Instead you want to be enraptured in beautifully sculpted sentences, you want to experience keen and fresh insights in human psychology, to view dissections ...more
Pierce
Not sure why I enjoyed this so much. Some of it might be the copy I found, a neat little €2 paperback with a pulp cover and red dyed edges.

Intense and solid small story. Probably my most enjoyed Updike. Funniest part was the sentences Updike imagined a ten-year-old would be capable of.
Scott Foley
Of The Farm details the complex relationship between a son in his mid-thirties and his elderly mother. The son brings his new wife and her son from a previous marriage to his mother's remote farm, and it's obvious from the beginning that the mother and the wife are not going to get along.

Though a brief novel, Updike delivers an intricate and dramatic story peeling away the complicated layers that make up relationships. Throughout the book, the man is constantly on alert, hoping to defuse any arg
...more
J. Alfred
Updike, by common consent, is a major voice in American letters. I first came across him in high school, when we read his short story The A&P, which is simply masterful. Later, I grabbed up his The Witches Of Eastwick in some secondhand shop, and we had a falling out: I hated it. Didn't even finish the stupid thing. It wasn't till this year, when he died, that I was reminded of his existence: in one of my classes we read this article (http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2009/02... article itself i ...more
Michael
Thought I'd read my last Updike years ago, after enjoying the Rabbit books and loathing The Witches of Eastwick but read an essay by David Foster Wallace in which is hails this, The Poorhouse Fair, and the Centaur, so read this. Updike is undoubtedly a great wordsmith but the somewhat hackneyed plot (to be fair, maybe not so overdone in 1965 when he published it) and overall implicit misogyny that mars much of his work made it less likable.
Steve
Feb 16, 2009 Steve rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who's never read any Updike (or any Updike they've enjoyed).
The last view years of his considerable writing life, it sometimes seemed that John Updike was almost writing parodies of himself, but this slender, early novel, shows why Updike, when he was on his game, was as fine an American writer of the 20th century. If you've never read him, start here.
Jonathan Stemberger
Of the Farm by John Updike. Random House Publishing Group, New York, 1965.
John Updike’s novel Of the Farm is about a man named Joey that returns to his old home in the country in order to visit his mother. It is not a novel for those who seek constant action; the story spends a lot of time on dialogue and description of past events and life on the farm which gives the piece a slow elderly feel. The descriptions Updike writes provide the reader with a full understanding of what is going on in mai
...more
Mehran Najafi
داستان شروع آرام و آهسته‌ای دارد. همه چیز روی دور کند گذاشته می‌شود و در ادامه هم –همانطور که از آپدایک انتظار می‌رود- خبری از ماجراهایی، بالاتر از سطح یک زندگیِ ساده نیست. صفحاتِ کم حجم داستان را، ساخته‌شدن و تکامل شخصیت‌ها شکل می‌دهد و بستر این امر، روی گفت‌وگوهای کاراکترها تمرکز یافته. این گپ‌وگفت‌ها یک‌جورهایی از هر دری هستند. از بحث و تبادل نظر روی کتاب‌های کمیک تخیلی –که درباره‌ی انسان‌های جهش یافته است و راستِ کار ریچارد است- گرفته، تا صحبت درباره‌ی زندگی مشترک قبلی پگی و جوئی رابینسون، خ ...more
Glenn Sumi
This is John Updike's fourth novel and not one of his best.

It began as a short story and should have remained one. (Note: he'd revisit the setting later in more economical tales like 1990's A Sandstone Farmhouse).

Thirty-five-year-old New Yorker Joey brings his second wife and her precocious young son to visit his cantankerous, ailing mother on her Pennsylvania farm.

Not much happens: Joey plows the field, there's a shopping trip, his mom says nasty things to everyone and breaks some very symbolic
...more
Tyler Koslow
John Updike
Of the Farm
The Random House Publishing Group
1965

John Updike’s On the Farm is a novel about a man with a new life in the city who goes back home and clashes with his old life. The main driving force behind the plot of this story is the dialogue that is consistently used. The relationship that the main character Joey Robinson develops with his mother and his new wife is evident through this constant use of conversation. In fact, the whole plot seems to be driven by the development of th
...more
Roderick Hart
This is an interesting shorter novel. A lot shorter than the last two Rabbit novels, for example (not then written). It has some slight autobiogaphical interest, I think. On page 59, the step-son of the first person narrator says to him, 'Your mother knows the names of everything.' He is referring to plants, birds and animals. Living things. I heard Updike say, at the age of seventy, that his mother knew the name of everything and had often tried to teach him, but he did not take it in. And now ...more
Diane Dunning
This is a story of sons and mothers, families that were, and new families in the making. I loved this book, especially the moments between the lead character and his mother, where the selves they were when they were both young emerge as touchstones for one another, reassurances that the emotional distance between them can still be closed in ways that only family members can make happen. It takes place on a farm infused with the histories and interiors of the people who inhabited it. Over the cou ...more
Peter
Apr 16, 2009 Peter rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
The dialogue we share with others is complex and unique among individuals, our language is allusive and teasing. We keep it very circumspective, superficial and flirtatious either to protect our own fragile egos or sometimes to protect others' but the level of indirection we maintain can also be used scathingly to reveal the stark schism between an individual's perceptions and reality.

Of The Farm is about Joey's trip to the family farm to help with some chores that his fading mother can no longe
...more
Nicholas
Flawlessly told, the story is not about being on a farm but about having the farm itself. Joey, married to Peggy, returns to a troubled mother who seems unwilling to cooperate. Her, the mother’s, clawing and digging into her son’s marriage betrays the deeper theme of her own sunken marriage. Alone, Joey’s mother clings to what she knows. Short but powerful: the tale reverberates in quick flashbacks of old loves and children. Somewhat theological, toward the end, the idea that women are under men ...more
Schuyler
This is my first Updike novel. I forget where I had come across this recommendation. So...successful city man and his new wife and step son visit his childhood farm where his kinda-dying widowed mother still lives. I say "kinda-dying" because it's implied that she's on the way out, though no illness is mentioned. Old age?

A gentle introduction into Updike's world, though from what I can gather, Updike made his career on chronicling suburban disillusionment and the despair of the American dream (a
...more
Cbj
Of the Farm is a really dense novel with a lot of internal dialog. It is about Joey, a corporate employee who goes on a weekend visit to his childhood home (a farm, now run by his mother) with his trophy second wife and stepson. Joey seems to be in a state of extreme neurosis as his thoughts hark back and forth from the present to the past, contemplating his life. He is like a moral melting pot who is caught between his bought beautiful wife (who works on the farm in a bikini and he keeps contem ...more
Robin
My least favourite Updike book so far. Some nail-on-the-head sentences here and there that come through clearly, but too much middle aged man whining for me. (Maybe it's time for a break from Updike, hmm?)
Charles Adkinson
This is an atmospheric little gem of a novel. Basically, the main character goes to his mother's farm (ostensibly to mow her fields so she won't get cited or fined or something), but he takes his new wife and her adolescent son with him. Essentially they spend the weekend in a beautifully rendered farmhouse and surrounding area (the farm is its own character in a way), and there's an extreme amount of tension between the protagonist's wife and mother. Updike is great, and if you're looking for a ...more
Suz Thackston
I so disliked this slender little self-conscious bit of egoist twaddle. Yeah, Updike can write, but every line drips with polish and precision and angst over whether it's worthy of appearing in 'one of the greatest writers of the 20th century's stupid book. Not one line comes across as passionate or coming from his heart or as if HE believes it. It's a heavy-handed personal creed being wrapped in storytelling form because Updike thinks he's such a great storyteller. I can see the talent over whi ...more
Charles M.
Early work by Updike, based on a real life expereince of returning to his mother's PA farm. This is a story of reflection on where the main character has been in life and what lies ahead.
Kate
John Updike's Of the Farm is a good story, but more importantly, it really is an exquisitely crafted piece of art. i can't remember the last time i read something whose sentences were so robust yet delicate and just plain good; they wind between plot and description, dialogue and insight with such complex beauty but seem to come from him effortlessly. certainly this is a short novel that contains more truth, charm, and intellect than many lengthier works filling up bookshelves.

this is the first
...more
Linda
I am still digesting this little book after just finishing it. So for now I will give it 3 stars.
Justin Rose
Felt like I really got to know the characters. Their interactions with each other seemed real.
Atefe a
خسته کننده. خوب نبود..
Barbara Price-gallagher
It was John Updike, so there's that. It was just okay, but a quick and not too complicated read.
Mary
The poet Wallace Stevens has a line that says "man is
part both in the inch and in the mile" and this is
man, woman and child seen in the inch, in a small
spot on earth and in only about 24 hours, but
seen in full. They come to life as soon as you meet
them, and are (and would agree that they are) more
alive a day later. All in just 174 deceptively easy pages
(in this 1965 Knopf hardcover edition).
Alana Akacki
I picked up this book merely for its gilded red pages, handheld size and old time look. I found it hard to get through at first, but then at the halfway point it got more interesting. I've read Updike's material before and found this to be not his best work. Although I did enjoy the idea of the main character going back to the farm and reminiscing with his mother and how his/their past.
Francois
Les relations tumultueuses d'un carriériste new-yorkais dans la mi-trentaine avec sa mère, sa nouvelle femme et son beau-fils, avec en toile de fond la ferme familiale de Pennsylvanie. Un personnage masculin fort, avec ses torts, ses faiblesses et ses questionnements. Updike a le don de sculpter des personnages mâles imparfaitement intéressants.
Melanie
An early novel of John Updike's (his fourth, I believe), the writing is wonderfully original and hints at future greatness, but the character development feels somewhat forced/overdone.
Kate
John Updike is one of my favorite authors. His take on the human experience is truly elevated in this novel, and his use of language is unlike any other author I have read. Of the Farm is a super fast read and leads you wondering the outcome of the characters and if there ever really is room for evolution after a certain age.
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John Hoyer Updike (born March 18, 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania) was an American writer. Updike's most famous work is his Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and Rabbit Remembered). Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest both won Pulitzer Prizes for Updike. Describing his subject as "the American small town, Protestant middle class," Updike is well known for hi ...more
More about John Updike...
Rabbit, Run (Rabbit Angstrom, #1) Rabbit at Rest (Rabbit Angstrom, #4) Rabbit Is Rich (Rabbit Angstrom, #3) Rabbit Redux (Rabbit Angstrom, #2) The Witches of Eastwick (Eastwick, #1)

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