Townhouse Books

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Toward the End of Time: John Updike

The used bookstore didn't have any of the Rabbit books that I wanted to read on a trip, so I bought this one on a whim. I thought it was extraordinary. And weird. There is a "plot" I could talk about, how the main character's name is Ben Turnbull, a retired lawyer who lives in Massachusetts, and that the book takes place in 2020 when the country is in some chaos after a Sino-American war, his wife, an affair, etc. ... but that's not what the book it about. It's about aging, sadness, death, language, the nature of time, and a whole lot about Ben's penis.

And some of the passages had me repeating a line weeks later or just cracked me up:

[Setting: Winter, he just heard his wife and a hunter outside and believe they may have caught a deer]

Without patience for socks, I stuck my naked feet into the loafers and, moving faster than I had for months, grabbed the old parka, with its seams leaking down, hung on the hook nearest the kitchen door downstairs. The cold outside was misty, and felt like shackles on my bare ankes. The day was still too young to have acquired horizons.

Shackles. Yes, exactly.


Gloria is very beautiful," Beatrice said, but listlessly. "Maybe an aerobics class is what I need. That, or give up alcohol. They say you drop five to ten pounds right away. How do you find it, Ben, not drinking?"

"Like waking up in Kansas every morning. But at least you don't have a headache or a lot of fuzz in your mouth."

Kansas. Hee.


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