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The Music School

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  259 ratings  ·  14 reviews
The Music School is a place of learning, in which a sheltered South Dakota boy meets his roommate at Harvard, a rebel with whom he will have a violent—and ambiguous—physical encounter; a warring married couple, Richard and Joan Maple, try and try again to find solace in sex; and Henry Bech, an unprolific American writer publicizing himself far from home, enjoys a moment of ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 12th 1966 by Knopf
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3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  259 ratings  ·  14 reviews


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Bob Newman
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
An Uneven Collection

John Updike at his best is hard to beat. The gem-like brilliance of his observatory powers dazzle me. His choice of words, the power of his phrasing all can leave me amazed. How could anyone write like that ? And at such a young age too. Certain stories in this collection from the 1960s took my breath away. "A Madman", about an encounter with an extremely eccentric Englishman on a first trip to Oxford not only captures the feel of Americans out of their culture, of English li
...more
K
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the MeToo era, this is a hard book to write. As others have noted, the writing is brilliant, crystalline and deeply insightful. It speaks of a lost era of prep school education in the classics and an isolated arrogance that (I'm pleased to say) has been intruded upon by our more diverse social and economic structure.

On the other hand, the stories are relentlessly sad and negative, and they feel very dated. Over and over again, they're about a married man betraying his wife and wanting some t
...more
Caleb Mitchum
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a wonderful read!

Updike's prose is generally wonderful. Such careful careful placement of words. Such diversity of vocabulary. And such insight into many aspects of the human conditions. One could see this collection as an essay on the human condition at its publication.

That being said, there is a lot of inherent homophobia/anti-feminist material in this writing. There are patently misogynist/homophobic portions of this work, like any other Updike work, unfortunately. It is, in my view, a t
...more
Sophie
Apr 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
This is one of the best short story collections I have read in a long while.


"It seemed that he and Joan were caught together in a classroom where they would never be recognized, or in a charade that would never be guessed, the correct answer being Two Silver Birches in a Meadow."

"All my life people have been expecting me to faint. I have no idea why. I never faint."

"Spring infiltrates a city through the blood of its inhabitants."

"He felt as if he were leaning backward, and his mind seemed a kin
...more
mark
Sep 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed several of the pieces in this collection of short stories. Updike has a distinctive style and seems to strive for psychological intensity, using really creative imagery in his descriptions. I did get tired of the married-couple-going-through-an-affair story, which he wrote in at least 4 different ways, maybe more that I cant recall right now. The Christian Roommates was probably the easiest and funniest story, though he didnt seem to know how to end it. I suspect that he laced all stor ...more
Steven
Dec 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some stories were very good and some not-so-good. I think Updike excels when he focuses his writing on the emotions and small/intimate actions of his characters, and that things become overwrought when he tries to write grandiose prose in places.

Stronger stories were 'Christian Roommates,' 'My lover has dirty fingernails,' and 'the Bulgarian poetess.' 'The Hermit' was weaker, as were a few others which I'll get around to naming tomorrow. 'The Dark' was rather interesting, and also for being so
...more
Aaron
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some of the work in this collection of Updike stories is spectacular. Favorite stories are the two "Maples" stories - "Giving Blood" and "Twin Beds in Rome". Also impressive are "At a Bar in Charlotte Amalie" and "Have Is Plowing Now". Enjoyed this collection immensely. Updike's consistent command of the language - and his intelligence, and ability to "imagine" scenes outside of his "comfort zone" of thinly-disguised autobiographical stories - is impressive.
Ivan
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
FIRST LINE REVIEW: "Do you remember a fragrance girls acquire in autumn?" Oh, that Updike! I'm always amazed by his ability to reveal so microscopically the everyday, but with a freshness of insight that makes the common appear alien. Often brilliant, often frustrating. Much like this daily walk we all take through life. Good stuff, this. For the patient reader who wants to fine tune his/her sense of smell (along with the other senses).
Emer Tannam
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
I'm giving this two stars because I've already read a lot of John Updike, and there's a limit to how many stories about cheating spouses I can read. This reflects more on me than it does on the book, however.
ej cullen
Feb 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Read this years ago and was enthralled. Upon re-reading, still good but maybe just a little too stilted and show-offy for my taste. Updike is still good company though.
Deborah
Mar 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Great! insightful
Andrew Murawa
Jul 31, 2016 rated it did not like it
I'm just not an Updike fan, short stories or otherwise.
Jen Knox
Apr 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Only two of these stories really gripped me. The book is worth reading, if only because no story, no matter how gripless, is devoid of Updikes's brilliant, beautiful way with words.
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John Hoyer Updike 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 his careful craftsmanship and prolific writing, havin ...more