Friday, January 20, 2012

Day Twenty: "Death of Distant Friends" by John Updike


This was a wonderful story told by a middle aged man dealing with the deaths of three important friends in his life: his golfing buddy, an older woman friend of his wife, and his Golden Retriever. Each brief recollection of these characters lets the reader into the mind of the narrator and we see him as a man who is truly "between" his life. He's not in it.

Despite their lives and how they enriched his, the narrator remarks that their deaths have given him a sense of relief, a relief that surprises him. This is where the story went beyond plot and became Updike:

"Witnesses to my disgrace are being removed. The world is growing lighter. Eventually there will be none to remember me as I was I those embarrassing, disarrayed year while I scuttled without a shell, between houses and wives, a snake between skins, a monster of selfishness, my grotesque needs naked and pink, my social presence beggarly and vulnerable. The deaths of others carry us off bit by bit, until there will be nothing left; and this till will be, in a way, mercy."


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