Licks of Love by John Updike

There are times when ignorance is truly bliss as in when you might go headlong into a novella like the one included in this brilliant compilation of otherwise short stories.  Updike is incapable of writing a bad sentence, without doubt, and it may very well be that he is perhaps incapable of telling a story without touching some part of your inner being that rises up to greet, meet, accept, reject, and become enveloped in a certain character or context of his tales.

This set of short stories, however, might be more appreciated by those who may no longer be quite as youthful in body as they are in spirit.  It takes time to make one’s choices in life, live with the choices one makes, and allow for the passage of time to reflect upon them.  Such are the tales that Updike weaves from those in small towns and big cities, making a living to keep body and soul together, and always seeking that one human emotion that seems to give meaning to one’s day or one’s life: that thing called love.  It is these licks of love that eventually seem to haunt us even as they permeate our memories.

Drawing upon every reference of American pop culture from the Clinton-Lewinsky imbroglio to the Elian Gonzalez affair and the Columbine shootings, Updike’s Rabbit Remembered is the short novella which is a continuation of the Rabbit series.  I cannot say I have had the pleasure of reading these already, but I do know that getting to them now will be double the pleasure because a backward journey can be hugely satisfying especially if you’re going back facing forward.


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