My Father's Tears and Other Stories
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My Father's Tears and Other Stories

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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  788 ratings  ·  144 reviews
John Updike's first collection of new short fiction since the year 2000, My Father's Tears finds the author in a valedictory mood as he mingles narratives of his native Pennsylvania with stories of New England suburbia and of foreign travel.

Morocco (Disc 1, Track 1)
Personal Archaeology (Disc 1, Track 31)
Free (Disc 1, Track 55)
The Walk with Elizanne (Disc 1, Track 80)
The Gu...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published June 2nd 2009 by Brilliance Audio (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,924)
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brian
goddammit i’m getting old. i still behave like a hyperactive mentally-disabled twenty-three year old, but at thirty-five i already have ‘old fuck syndrome’ -- by which i mean that i loathe my generation all out of proportion. if i read another one of these cutesy assholes writing about the pains it takes to make the perfect mixed CD, i’m gonna cut my legs off with a steak knife. shitty thing is that in thirty years i’m gonna be crapping all over the younger generation and explaining how superior...more
Red Fields
I read this for a book group. It's not a book I would've chosen on my own. I thought it got off to a good start with the first story but subsequent stories seemed to be too much of the same settings and themes over and over. Only-boy children, raised during/after the Depression, by parents and grandparents, infidelity in the 1960s, sometimes divorce, distance from their children. It was kind of boring although the guy is great at descriptive writing. You can picture everything but after a while...more
Harold Griffin
Lamenting the prospect of no more Updike, I was excited when I inadvertently discovered this collection of short stories. I thoroughly enjoyed, but cannot say that I loved the volume, which was filled with characteristic insights into the human condition, but without any real knockout tales, just literate, intelligent vintage-Updike musings. The last story, "The Full Glass," ends -- in light of Updike's demise -- with a "toast to the visible world," the toaster's "impending disappearance from it...more
Erik Simon
I sometimes think Updike's earliest stories can be long and meandering, but this is a collection of taut gems by a master craftsman. I suspect he wrote most of them while he knew he wasn't much longer for this world, but you needn't be dying to appreciate them. They capture perfectly the exquisite poignance of regrets, mistakes, and missed chances.
Tony
MY FATHER’S TEARS, and other stories. (2009). John Updike. ****.
John Updike passed away in 2009 so I have to assume that this would have been his last collection of short stories. He was a masterful short story writer. He didn’t employ any tricks; he was not an O’Henry or an Ambrose Bierce. He was more like a man you might sit down next to on a train and strike up a conversation with. His characters soon begin telling you their life story as encapsulated in a short event, and you listen. This co...more
Kathy
I have rarely read short stories that made me so reflective. I would read one, savor it for days, and then move on.
Christopher Roth
Most of these I must have read in The New Yorker originally, but the only one I recalled is "The Guardians," which still stands out as pretty much the best—absolutely mind-blowing. "The Apparition," which takes place among American tourists in India, is also superb, and the last line is like a punch in the stomach. Both, like most of these stories, deal with the connection between sex and death in the male brain/mind/Weltanschauung, which is also as I take it the underlying theme of all Updike's...more
Alan
I love Updike, so it was sad reading his last book of short stories. These seem so personal that they must be at least half autobiographical. Many take places in Pennsylvania, where he was born, and featured characters in the last part of their lives. Updike stories always show off his great vocabulary, concise and vivid descriptions, and lusty characters. He was interested in sex and illicit relationships all of his life and these stories are no exception. I think his main point was that people...more
Regina Mclaughlin
As intimate and confessional an assortment of narrators as Updike ever conjured up. Some not likeable, others not trustworthy. AS can be expected, these tales are redolent of familiar sound, taste, see, smell and touch. Updike seizes hold of our nerve endings and tantalizes the brain to interpret this neurologic input: what to make of seeing a garment worn askew, what the feel of a barefoot gambol on grass tells of the past, how a whiff of fragrance can become freighted with long-forgotten assoc...more
Cecilia
This book was not written for me. (I am of the wrong generation, even my parents are of the wrong generation, and I am not a middle class male from rural Pennsylvania.) However, the writing is hypnotic. As I read the stories, I felt as if I were in a gentle whirlpool, on language. The stories have so many overlaps that it feels like continuations from one to the other. It is is if you gently snag one story into the other and draw a new plot line.

At the beginning I did not like this book. I could...more
Tom Ferguson
Updike had an interesting view of the world. He lived in a world of trolley cars and old houses in the midst of suburban transformation. His writings often look back to the 30's and 40's and he likes his protagonist to be an older man remembering his childhood. I am especially drawn to some of his sharp commentary on life - "It is easy to love people in memory; the hard thing is to love them when they are there in front of you." An interesting set of stories and a nice read.
Stephen Murley
One of the last collection of stories from one of America's finest storyteller. Beautiful sentences you want to read over and over. "Personal Archaeolgy" was my favorite story. This is a must read for any Updike fan. I really miss him!
Thomas J. Hubschman
Disappointing. I haven't much cared for his work as a whole, but I did greatly admire his use of the language in an earlier collection. In this he seems prolix and repetitive and preoccupied with his own navel.
Oswald Hobbes
Updike circles slowly, laboriously around mortality. Most of these "stories" are thinly-veiled reminiscences - the ones that detail his small town childhood are probably the worst, the bewildered travelogues (Africa, Spain, Italy) the best, and the pieces concerning marital infidelities and the failings of wives as a species just sort of inevitable. "Varieties of Religious Experience," which examines 9/11 from several different narrative perspectives, is maybe the worst Updike (aside from certai...more
Sandra McLeod
Updike is the ultimate storyteller and weaves a delicate and bittersweet thread through all these stories that will stay with you long after you close the book.
Kushal
A collection of graceful stories, of lives nearing their ends. Pretty much every story explores with great perceptiveness and warmth, characters looking back at their lives with a mixture of wonder and regret and melancholy as they come to terms with the proximity of their deaths, and perhaps evaluate what held for them the most meaning and, really, if anything held any meaning at all. Two stories - Morocco & Varieties of Religious Experiences don't quite seem to belong to this collection......more
Alia Makki
It has taken me a little more than a couple of months to finish - not even all of the 18 stories in this collection. This was Updike's last instalment in the publishing industry, and whether he knew it or not, (though I would be surprised that someone with his lucid awareness would've been caught by death unaware,) that solemn realization of a certain end arriving much later than he had anticipated, was becoming all too near. And that knowledge seeped in all these stories, and snagged at the tur...more
Edward
Updike, John, MY FATHER’S TEARS, and other stories (2009), read 12-2011

A wonderful and moving collection of short stories which appeared the same year that John Updike died at age 77. They are told from the point of view of old men who both look back on their lives while simultaneously living in the present and in the last story, “The Full Glass”, appropriately enough, look forward to their demise. Victorian writers, someone said, wrote only about sex and death, and that could as well describe...more
Sarah
The short stories in this volume capture Updike doing precisely what he did best: latching onto the very nuances of the American male in particular (while not all of the tales in this volume are told from the male perspective) and speaking from their point of view in a way that makes you empathetic with him when, when told from any other angle you would want to throttle him.
It is for this reason that Updike was a rare writer and a great loss, for he could pinpoint these nuances and then speak f...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
John Updike wrote many books in his lifetime (according to Goodreads, he published 22 novels during his lifetime). I had not read any of them before this collection of short stories. The stories cover many different subjects but the human story and experience is at the center of each. Some of the stories I was able to connect with and some I was not able to.

One of my favorite stories in the book was about 9/11. Updike looks at the event from someone watching the World Trade Center falling from B...more
Liam O'brien
Feb 06, 2013 Liam O'brien rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Men and tolerant women
From the man who "never had an unpublished thought" comes some more collected stories. It's a real trip reading these, and I'm beginning to realize how much of an ambivalent process Updike will always be for me. On one hand, brilliant prose. On the other hand, gut-achingly boring subject matter, and repetitive as fuck. (Man is middle aged or elderly WASP. Man is married. Man considers the women around him with weird comparisons.) On one hand, this is the fucking master. On the other hand, unfort...more
Mita
"La vecchiaia è una brutta bestia."
Ho trascinato stancamente questo libro per mesi. Continuavo a ripetermi che non mi piaceva, che era lento, noioso e ripetitivo... e che poi in fondo io ero ancora giovane!
Già, perchè era proprio questo il problema: riconoscere nei meccanismi mentali che muovevano i personaggi gli stessi meccanismi che sentivo pian piano innescarsi nella mia mente.
Non è facile accettare il tempo che passa, e tutto va bene finchè non te ne accorgi: semplicemente non ci pensi!
M...more
Jennifer
In a way this was a frustrating book. It is a while since I read any Updike and this collection of short stories has reminded me of what has ended with his death. I loved his Rabbit novels - you could almost smell the male but un-macho sweat. This collection does seem to follow on logically, being much (but not entirely) about the experience of old age. Many of the stories have linking elements. Varieties of Religious Experience was an excruciatingly painful read about 9/11. Initially I baulked...more
Bill
Proustian Reflections on American Life

Updike, John (2009). My Father’s Tears and Other Stories. New York: Random/Ballantine.

Eighteen previously published stories of fifteen to twenty pages make up this posthumous collection. Each one is a gem – not a bad one among them, and that is all the more remarkable because they are superficially about the most mundane aspects of everyday life in America in the twentieth century. Characters go to the store or a dinner party, a class reunion, or have a fami...more
Denis
Here's an excerpt of a review from a fellow Goodreader...

"...y’know what i mean -- the ‘born alone, die alone’ thing; the seeking out people to share experience with but always having the nagging feeling that as much as you try, as deep as you go, you can never truly convey the ineffable uniqueness of what it feels like to be ‘you’. or ever truly know another human.

it’s almost unbearable to feel existence so powerfully, to feel the wonderful and mad crush of confusion and happiness and melancho...more
Angelique
Obviously a collection of stories from a dying/old man. I loved the first story and it was all downhill from there. I don't think I can deny that they were well written, I just felt like there were lots of half baked ideas and too much reminiscing.

Parts I liked:

pg. 198 from Emerson's essays "every natural natural fact is a smbol of some spiritual fact"..."Everything is made of one hidden stuff,"..."every hero becomes a bore at last,"..."we boil at different degrees."

pg. 215 "People call his hous...more
Richard Needham
I am always impressed with Updike’s talent: whether he can be criticized for not writing on ‘great themes’ or faulted as something of a misogynist means nothing in the end to me: he was a great writer and intellect. The title story is one of the best of this last collection of stories, and reminds me of ‘Pigeon Feathers’ another title story from his (first? early?) collection. Typical of Updike, and indicative of his brilliance is a theme, in ‘My Father’s Tears’, of a dancing rainbow of refracti...more
Steve
This collection is Updike's last and I have to say that it is merely good. With the exception of "The Walk with Elizanne" (which is one of the most touching stories I've read in a while) these stories are not among Updike's best. Even his take on 9/11 (The Varieties of Religious Experience) falls short of expectations. Nonetheless, I miss this prolific "man of letters"...it gives you pause when you read that the copyright belongs to "The Estate of John Updike."
Bookmarks Magazine
"Updike enthusiasts will have no trouble recognizing the author's stamp in this last, melancholy collection. Updike revisits characters and settings from earlier works as his male protagonists, now in their twilight years, glance wistfully over their shoulders at past lives and former loves. The New York Times Book Review cited this ""obsessive recollection of detail for its own sake"" as both a triumph and a limitation, but critics unanimously regarded Updike as one of the great writers of our...more
Rich
"Varieties of Religious Experience" is a trenchant and sad allusion to the ecstasy chronicled in William James' work over 100 years ago. Here it's all delusion and anger and occasional WASPy comfort. Each story drew me in more. Updike strikes me as the non-Catholic version of Flannery O'Connor -- documenting the evil we do and the blindness that drives us to it. Evil is real and sometimes obvious, and more often inside and insidious and selfish. I'm not doing justice with this review, I've becom...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
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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“It is easy to love people in memory; the hard thing is to love them when they are there in front of you.” 110 likes
“Her hair had been going gray as long as he could remember; she bundled it behind in a bun held with hairpins that he frequently found on the floor when he lived boyishly close to the carpet.” 1 likes
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