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A Month of Sundays
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A Month of Sundays

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  945 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Written ad libidum as occupational therapy, this book is both a confession and a testament.
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 29th 1993 by knopf (first published 1974)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,585)
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Jeffrey Keeten
“Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings.”

There is SEX in this book. There is ADULTERY in this book. There is PEEPING in this book. OMG there is also GOLF in this book which with its phallic clubs, balls, and holes is also (baffling) about SEX.

We meet Reverend Thomas Marshfield in the pages of his confessional writings from his incarceration in a country club for fallen priests and ministers where he is being punish by playing GOLF and POKE-HER with his f
...more
Mike
Jan 15, 2012 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: A select audience not offended by frank sexuality
Recommended to Mike by: The library shelves of Prof. Elizabeth Huggins
A Month of Sundays, John Updike's Unreliable Gospel According to Thomas Marshfield

Meet Thomas Marshfield, a Christian Minister tending to a flock somewhere back East, above and beyond the pale of Ministry, especially where his female congregants are concerned. Here is a contemporary Doubting Thomas, on a Sabbatical of sorts. He is, short of being de-frocked, sent to a desolate motel, located in the desert, a program for ministers who have, shall we say problems regarding human frailty.

Thomas con
...more
Cecily
I hadn't read any Updike for years, the premise of this one was appealing (a promiscuous priest, sent away to consider the conflict between his sexual shenanigans and his faith), it was only 2.99 on a charity stall, and I don't have to like the protagonist to like a book, but this... I didn't enjoy it (2*). It was well-written in many ways (3*), but Tom was just too unpleasant. I tried make allowances for different mores, but whereas his misogyny and homophobia would be understandable in a Victo ...more
brian
Mar 13, 2009 brian rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to brian by: montambo. heh heh.
a month of Sundays: a cross between winter light (grim bergman movie about a priest who loses his faith) and hot and saucy pizza girls (70s porno)… from some kind of desert sanitarium for holy men gone bad, reverend marshfield writes a memoir about his days of preaching fucking and sucking. one sees where updike was going with all this, but he never gets there. The anguish and frustration is occasionally felt, but for the most part, one imagines the author at his type-writer with half-wood, a sm ...more
Eric Bigler
Apr 10, 2008 Eric Bigler rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with time to muse over things
I read this years ago and wanted to reread the novel to see if I would enjoy more now.

Updike's word-play is marvelous, but the book runs toward the turgid, with esoteric theological bouts featuring Tillich and Barth (among others), and paragraphs in French untranslated from Pascal.

E.g. "Dear Tillich, great amorous jellyfish, whose faith was a recession of beyonds with these two flecks in one or another pane: a sense of the world as 'theonomous', and a sense of something 'unconditional' within t
...more
Jamie Howison
I re-read this one (probably 20 years after I first read it...) thanks to a friend calling it "undisguised, misogynistic erotica for male clergy." I strongly disagreed with her, but then said that I would re-read it and then we could talk more. I have to admit I no longer find it quite so powerful a read as I once did...

Yet it was the 70s when Updike wrote this one, and that was an era in which the church had kind of lost the compass in terms of any kind of a healthy perspective on sexuality (a
...more
John
After striving to reach the pinnacle of bookish prestige (which included a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1959 and a National Book Award for "The Centaur"), Updike opted to indulge his less sober-minded self with this arch and witty first-person narrative from the perspective of a man who shares Humbert-Humbert’s literary, if not sexual, tendencies. Indeed, "A Month of Sundays" nods to Nabokov in its delight in puns, wordplay, mental calisthenics, and self-confessional musings, while still featuring t ...more
Elizabeth Moeller
I am not a religious person and so I wasn't sure if I would be able to take much from this story of a minister who has had affairs with multiple members of his congregation and is sent to a desert retreat after being asked to step aside. The minister, in the form of writing a narrative as part of his recuperation, details the acts that have led to him being relieved of his post. However, he also struggles with the internal loss of faith, or at least change in his understanding of faith, which le ...more
Brian
At times engaging and funny, but at other times dull and forced. There are bits of word-play and turns of phrases that are exactly what I enjoy so much in Updike's "Rabbit" novels, but there were other sections where the epistolary style was just a chore to read. If this had been my first Updike I probably wouldn't be rushing to start a second.
Greg of A2
It's slyly funny and well...pretty dirty. You don't read many books describing Reverends like this one. Updike really reaches for the ultimate lecherous protestant minister and I think he succeeds. Other reviewers have mentioned this book as a kind of Nabokov homage and I agree.
Bruce Beckham
Imagine Lionel Messi, alone in a gym, with just a ball.

I don’t doubt his skills would be sublime, captivating – indeed teetering tantalisingly upon the very limits of believability.

But probably only watchable for about ten minutes.

Keepy-uppy lacks the narrative of a competitive match.

This is probably why it's not a globally televised sport, while soccer is.

For Messi and ball, substitute Updike and typewriter.

Bring on A Month of Sundays.

And, voila: wordy-uppy. (A crueller critic might say assy-up
...more
Stu Moore
Had not read any Updike in quite a while so very much enjoyed this one. All of the typical WASP-y male adulterous angst and this time of a preacher. Not sure JU ever even told us what kind of preacher, but a protestant one who has gotten in trouble for sleeping with women in his flock under the watchful eye of his wife and the associate pastor. He writes these lines from a camp for men of God who have been bad that is perhaps in either New Mexico or Arizona (most likely the latter). I don't reme ...more
Sara S.
Highly memorable, for its clever, goatish, and irreverent protagonist. Written in epistolary form, a conceit I find hard to resist.
Amanda
One of the most honest depictions of human weakness ever. Love the humor and genius of his composition.
Judy
Not Updike's best, this volume is a series of self-examinations typed, and typo-ed, by a disgraced minister who has been sent to a desert lodge along with other disgraced clergymen, to play golf and poker, to drink, and to type. No apparent therapy is offered at this facility, no evident religion, other than the esoteric bits which the narrator sticks into his stories, most of which involve his self-obsessive sexual exploits. The narrator clearly looks down on everyone he has ever encountered, d ...more
Sheila
Trying to approach Updike from another way, having been so horrified and uplifted by Rabbit, Run (a really uncomfortable combination) as to vow I'd never read any more Rabbit books, and yet desiring to take another glimpse into the imagination of the man behind them.

It sounded like a good idea at the time.

Thanks to Updike for remindng me how completely unqualified I am to read him. Although at least this time it wasn't a complete shock to to my system to read the deeply philosophical and meande
...more
Clara
This is a mind-bender. A deep, dense novel, 'A Month of Sundays' explores faith, boundaries, blurrings of identity, apocalypse/the unknown: obviously, what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in brain.

But I came to the end still unsure whether I liked it. Not that liking it is actually important, just--I'm used to reading philosophically-inclined novels, but this one was just a bit too smart for me. Lots of obscure religious debate, from equally obscure theologians--a glut of unconnecte
...more
Amanda Pagano

A Combination of Sexuality and Religion

A Month of Sundays by John Updike
Fawcett Book, 1976
In the midst of the sexual revolution Updike came out with A Month of Sundays which touched highly on the subject of sexuality. Yet, Updike delves into the world of religion even more with Reverend Tom Marshfield as the protagonist. Religion and sexuality collide in the life of Tom when he begins his sexual escapades. While these two subjects are handled with wit and a play on words there is a seriousness
...more
Mitchell
A Month of Sundays
A novel by John Updike

When A Month of Sundays was released in 1974, it spent 4 months on the New York Times Best Sellers List. With its humours tone and perspective on the intersection of sex and religion (in a Christian context) it must have danced on the edge and even stepped over the line, of 'political correctness', for its time.

Since the release of A Month of Sundays, we've been drowned by a tsunami of sexual indiscretions committed by religious leaders. The fictional act
...more
Michael
Sexual dysfunction is a fertile topic for fiction, and Updike's novels are full of it. Full of it. A Month of Sundays gives us thirty-one journal entries by the erudite, yet silly Tom Marshfield, a man recovering from his crisis of faith at a luxury hospital in Arizona, playing golf and poker, and drinking his fill of cocktails.

The affairs are fun, and when Updike controls his lyricism some of the sex is interesting and real. However, these seems much more like a sketch of Tom Marshfield then a
...more
Maggie
I did not enjoy this book.

The concept of a douche-y, horndog reverend is not novel enough to sustain interest beyond...honestly beyond the first paragraph. Ok yes, he knows theory, ideology, philosophy and a lot of complicated concepts and big words...but so what?? He is tedious, boring, insufferable and this book just read as self-indulgent drivel.

There was no character arc or development. He remains as big of an asshole douche slut at the end of the book as at the beginning. And also completel
...more
Carrie
I selected this for my "U" choice for A-to-Z Authors group and had started (but paused) reading it before John Updike died. Once he died, I forced myself to keep reading this book just so I could check it off my list. I don't think the description did an adequate job of describing what the book would actually be about, and I found it hard to follow. Perhaps that's because Updike's vocabulary is so extensive...I probably should have read it along with a dictionary. There were some chapters that c ...more
Michael Davies
Monty Python's Dirty Vicar has nothing on sex-mad disgraced clergyman Thomas Marshfield, sent into the wilderness to play golf, drink and gamble whilst writing his mea culpa and attempting to seduce the formidable Ms Prynne, who, we are led to believe, will be reading the steamy memoir that sets out his sins and his growing desire for her previously undesired and equally formidable body. Very funny in parts, particularly some of the golf/life analogies, but if I ever read it again I may have to ...more
Eric
Feb 10, 2009 Eric rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Broken middle-aged men, women who love men they hate
Recommended to Eric by: John Updike's death
I loved this book for what it did to my manner of speaking and my use of language while I read it. This is the first piece of literature that I have read since completing my Ph.D. (and none that I can recall while earning the piled higher deeper). I wound myself up in it like satin sheets. I feel like I remembered a the part of me that loves literature as I read this text and I am likely to remember it for years as the text that brought a love of words back to me.

Some will likely detest the Reve
...more
Stewart
As were many readers of novels, short stories, and essays, I was saddened by the recent death of John Updike. I was introduced to Updike late in my life when my mother in 2004 sent me a copy of "Rabbit at Rest," and I decided to read the first three novels of the quartet before tackling the final volume. I was quickly impressed with his writing ability and his amazing attention to detail. "A Month of Sundays" is a funny 1976 novel about a defrocked minister who is forced to write a "memoir" in a ...more
Luke Glaude
A Month of Sundays is an enjoyable book if you have read Updike before and are familiar with his style. Not one of his best, by far. The novel has too many mentions of esoteric philosophers, like Tillich and Barth. I found myself on wikipedia trying to figure out the point of many of his dragging sentences.
It has some great pages however that deserve a closer look, like some of his ideas on adultery and leftist ideas that show Updike's philosophical leanings. (Updike was a supporter of the Viet
...more
Kaethe
Middle-class protestant white guy suffers a midlife crisis about the fact that he doesn't get to poke anything but his wife.
Elliott
Updike's talent for linguistic acrobatics - or "unequaled command of the potentialities of the language" as one reviewer put it - is undeniable, but at times it can feel self-indulgent. However, since this is the only Updike book I've read (I picture vigourous finger-wagging and tsk-ing from you, Reader), I have nothing to which to compare it. It did seem like a suitable introduction to his work though. I plan to read "Rabbit, Run" in the near future.


NB: Did you notice a fundamental resemblance
...more
Rebecca
I kept hoping and hoping it would get better as I had read some of "The Maples Stories" by Updike years ago, but it this book failed to do so. I've read other reviews about all the DIRTY SEX in this book, but I guess I've read dirtier, sexier books before. I wasn't impressed -or- maybe I wasn't supposed to be impressed. I had no connection with any character and I thought the last ten chapters dragged on. The only reason I finished it is because I was hoping for some phenomenal ending. It didn't ...more
Thomas Wood
A really interesting take on religion and sexuality. I am a WASP and Updike speaks to my history, therefore most everything I have read of his is relative to my experience. I have suggested him to others with mostly negative feedback, but I'll continue to do so. I would definitely read "A Month of Sundays" again. The wordplay is sublime, the subject matter of Religion and sexuality interesting, and the humor is evident throughout. Updike takes serious subjects and makes them fun and interesting ...more
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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
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“Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings.” 225 likes
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