CouplesCouples Is The Book That Has Been Assailed For Its Complete Frankness Praised As An Artful, Seductive, Savagely Graphic Portrait Of Love, Marriage Adultery In America But Be It Damned Or Hailed, Couples Drew Back The Curtain Forever On Sex In Suburbia In The Late Th Century A Classic, It S One Of Those Books That Will Be Read Remembered For A Long Time To Come

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,

❃ [EPUB] ✻ Couples By John Updike ➜ –
  • Paperback
  • 506 pages
  • Couples
  • John Updike
  • English
  • 02 August 2017
  • 9781125140512

10 thoughts on “Couples

  1. says:

    What is it that Jack says to Ennis in Brokeback Mountain I wish I knew how to quit you I think that s it, and that s exactly what I want to say to John Updike I wish I knew how to quit you.I wish I knew how to quit you, John, quit this relationship I ve gotten myself into with you There are no cliffhangers here, no outbursts of laughter or joy, just a whole lot of painful examinations of life and much unwanted talk of our impending deaths.So, why do I stay Is it the sex Mmmm, yes, it could be the sex The sex is great Oh, baby, it s so great Well, most of the time, like when you aim for the right orifice But you don t, John, do you You don t always aim for the right door, do you, John and don t tell me that it was just a slip And, on top of that you smoke Ugh There s nothing worse than having you light up, after you ve had your way with me, and then blowing that nasty smoke in my face as you then wonder aloud how we re both going to die.So, why do I stick around, even after you ignore me, ignore me multiple times in a row, when my response to your hand on my hip is a respectful not tonight dear Why, John, why Why can t I quit you Oh, I know why.Because you re mother fucking brilliant.

  2. says:

    Sex is like money only too much is enough It s 1968 and religion is dying Faith is fluttering away Marriage is a desolate, lonely place With death approaching, all that comforts is the welcoming arms of a lover Sex is the new religion But not just any sex It s gotta be sex with someone who isn t your legally bound partner Maybe it s the wife of your friend The pregnant woman down the road The town s dentist It s time for some bed hopping You know, the old switcheroo Lascivious activity hidden and secretive or agreed upon like a business transaction sealed with a handshake Adultery is the new raison d tre, coitus the new divinity.This premise shocked the literary world when Couples was published It got Updike on the cover of Time Magazine I m sure that it had many people agape at the limp morals of the book s characters.Knowing this, I expected a salacious page turner Couples could have easily been titled Swingers So why did I find myself struggling through the sex laden pages First, there are simply WAY too many characters This story focuses on ten couples in the fictional town of Tarbox, Massachusetts That s twenty people Twenty Twenty people who have very few distinguishing characteristics Who is Freddie And who the hell is Eddie Who is Carol married to What are their kids names Does it matter It got to the point where I sketched out a map to remind myself who belonged to who, who was screwing who, who had screwed in the past, etc As time went on, I questioned whether it was that important to remember They are all the same soulless person.The book is also way too long 450 pages could have been trimmed down at least by a third Just when you think everything that could happen, has, there s still like 100 pages to go People still screwing, still complaining, still wandering around aimlessly Scary long paragraphs describing the New England scenery.The apathy, too There is very little crescendo of emotion, so even when there are consequences to naughty boinking behaviour, it doesn t mean much, because the reaction is polite, very cerebral, repetitive, and boring.Boring How could I be bored when there is talk of phalli and vaginas every 5 10 pages Don t get me wrong John Updike writes about sex with such lyrical pull that I must bow to the beauty He writes the dialogue of people laying in the dark together like none other This is why I opened up this book, and so in that sense I got what I came for Ahem But, I have to say, sex isn t all that hot when the people involved are so unaffected and indifferent And, most importantly, so easily replaced Especially the women, who are for the most part not in control of the affairs, and who seem to pay the biggest price.What starts off as a post pill paradise a sexual freedom that the people in this community revel in devolves This isn t a surprise how can it continue like this John Updike lived through the sexual revolution, and I think he captured an experience many people tried out I believed him He is honest about the vacuous disintegration He s honest about his struggle between God and faith with our animal compulsions The church will always be rebuilt though, in his world, and philanderers will have their hands slapped The phallucy of paradise is upended It s all so silly, isn t it Adultery It s so much trouble

  3. says:

    You know when a guilty man sets about justifying his behaviour, how he strives for big philosophical words and at the same time to bring all his charm to the fore to justify the petty thing he did Well, this entire novel is a bit like that It s about ten couples in suburban America in the 1960s It s like a medieval banquet of sex, climaxing with the moral equivalent of gout Apart from anything else it s all wildly implausible A balding middle aged man of average intelligence and no creative talent who feels a kind of contemptuous affection for his two young daughters somehow manages to seduce most of the wives of his friend set We learn little about the motives of the women who succumb to this obnoxious man s insatiable appetite for sexual conquest The men get all the best lines and all the volition in this novel I was initially excited because of how well Updike writes he also frequently overwrites and how perceptive he can be about relationships but as a novel it drags on endlessly on the same repetitive beat The denouement when the chastened hero watches his church burn down just felt naff as any kind of commentary on the feckless gratuitous behaviour of all the too many and often indistinguishable characters in this book Only because of the quality of the writing does it merit three stars.

  4. says:

    I m honestly a bit surprised that I picked this up To my prejudices it was the jejune, possibly self caricatural big bestseller, the book whose fame caused every obituary writer to narrowly cast Updike as a chronicler of upper middle class New England marriages Rabbit is a Pennsylvanian petit bourgeois, as it happens I had heard plenty of bad reports from personal friends, from distantly eminent judges Martin Amis called it a false summit of the Updike oeuvre But I was at a library sale, and it was 2, and the jacket photo was so vintage Updike, with his quizzical smirk, seersucker shirt tucked into chinos, tanned forearms, and behind him a wall of weathered Nantuckety beach house shingle And at that sale a few weeks previous I had bought a copy The Stories of John Cheever, and had read so many that I wanted midcentury New England agnst, communter trains and cocktail shakers and girdles, and the sale also had stacks of old early 1960s issues of LIFE that nobody bought but contained the ads of that world, ads for cheap vernacular bourbon and Hi Fi and convertibles that you drive a blond to the beach in So I had to buy Couples How bad could it be Updike long ago entered my personal pantheon of writers James, Nabokov, Edmund White whose least distinguished books are readable, so great is my relish of their phrasing and perception I wasn t expecting much but I thought it would be fun Turns out, this is the true trial of an Updike lover I passed, and was rewarded but much in this book is bad For one, there are too many people 10 couples, 20 rather boring and or repellent characters entangled with each other in adulterous affairs past, ongoing, and just dawning Piet Hanema, like Updike a Dutch descended sensualist Christian, churchgoing but priapic, serves as a sturdy enough platform for Updike s observatory lyricism well, except for the painfully derivative Joycean stream of consciousness and Piet s wife and daughters are finely drawn but the rest of these people just suck So much dialogue The vast middle of the novel is devoted to seemingly endless transcripts of middlebrow cocktail party ruminations to feeble flirty jokes, soporific gossip, booze addled attempts to apply half remembered Freudian and anthropological terms to their ennui Updike was asleep at the wheel for much this one He does the tense socializing of outwardly friendly but lustful and rivalrous couples so much better in Rabbit Is Rich, in the country club scenes, where the number of couples is manageably fewer and they are all interesting, or at least relevant to Rabbit s story Updike also indulges some wannabe comic but totally unfunny racial characterization John Ong, a Korean, is allowed one trait unintelligible English And Ben Saltz, a Jew, is ponderous and pushy he also reads Commentary There is also excruciatingly metaphorical sex Less than you d expect in a 400 page novel about suburban swingers, but still quite a bit Piet and the very pregnant Foxy Whitman have astronomical sex Their lovemaking lunar, revolving frictionless around the planet of her womb The crescent bits of ass his tongue could touch below her cunt s petals Her far off cries, eclipsed. As I neared the last of the novel s four mega chapters, I began to think that writing this ridiculous could have been avoided if Piet, as much I favored him above the others, hadn t been the surrogate intelligence of the book His wide eyed wonder at the world was unsuited to a catalogue of bored bed hopping to make such action interesting Updike needed command of a Gallic, cynical tone this should have been a novel of malicious manners, modeled on the novel of pitilessly dissected motives that is, said W.M Spackman, one of the glories of French literature Les Liaisons dangereuses, Madame Bovary But as I said, these were my thoughts before starting the last section, which turned out to be uninterruptedly awesome, an 80 page clean sprint of wisdom and insight and skill Updike even redeems his condescending characterization of John Ong with the moving scene in Ong s hospice room The chatty extraneous couples recede and it becomes all about Piet s disintegrating marriage, his apartmented singleness, his reunion with Foxy The tone is far seeing, laconic, epilogic Updike drops on you the crushing sadness of just starting to move on and not just from a failed relationship, but from friendship, from mere acquaintance what have they forgotten, what have they lost asks the narrator s first wife in Cheever s The Seaside Houses, like Couples a story about sundering and new selves and lost time set against a backdrop of New England beaches Suddenly, Updike s melancholic attention, throughout the book, to the mutations and minute light effects of seasonal change came to have a thematic resonance I remembered that the action takes place over just a year, a blip in the lives of people Opening to my marker last night, I steeled myself for a weary slog to the end I closed the novel with a big smile and my brain buzzing That s what I read Updike for.

  5. says:

    What s wonderful and aggravating about Updike all in one book We see the same recycled themes here parts feel very much like Marry Me and the Rabbit series, among others , which isn t a bad thing Updike loves to focus on adultery, and he does so as well as anyone I know Some great characters here Love the Piet storyline and all the characters involved in it Also love the side story about the swinging couple really interesting stuff there that, unfortunately, he never really comes back to The book, like many Updike books, feels too long His descriptions are often beautiful but, as usual, he gives us too many for my way of thinking, far too many of them I found myself skimming many of the scenes describing the beautiful and fucking boring New England coast Aside from the Rabbit books, probably my favorite Updike Despite its flaws, there is so much life and energy in this book Highly recommended.

  6. says:

    Nobody writes about infidelity quite as good as Updike Well, Roth sometimes gets close, but particularly in Couples, the disintegration of the various couples in the small New England town is described with painful realism by John Updike Each character is fully developed and is sometimes endearing, sometimes enraging but always compelling After the Rabbit series, this was my favorite Updike book.

  7. says:

    one reads a lot of this about updike it s really well written, but , the prose soars, but , the writing was great, but you don t see a lot of this regarding vincent van gogh it s really well painted, but , the brush strokes are nice but isn t he just painting a flower or some wheat or a dirty bar an imperfect analogy, but close enough updike digests reality and spits it out with such force and kaleidoscopic beauty i d compare his description of reality against reality itself as i would vincent s Starry Starry Night against any actual night sky all splattered out with stars updike might harp on a few larger themes, but after finishing six novels and countless short stories it d be tough not to realize that what updike s all about is expressing what it means to be alive in a world of other people with the knowledge that we will die alone or, as one character explains it to his friends We re all put here to humanize each other it s ugly work and no one does it better than updike.but updike s no romantic no way if his contemporaries philip roth and norman mailer are john ford with their mythic landscapes and smashed heroic myths, then updike has gotta be yazusiro ozu with his small domestic dramas and devestating mini heartbreaks when one character realizes How plausible it was to die, how death, far from invading Earth like a meteor, occurs on the same plane as birth and marriage and the arrival of the daily mail it says it all.Musee des Beaux Arts W.H Auden About suffering they were never wrong, The Old Masters how well, they understood Its human position how it takes place While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting For the miraculous birth, there always must be Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating On a pond at the edge of the wood They never forgot That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer s horse Scratches its innocent behind on a tree In Breughel s Icarus, for instance how everything turns away Quite leisurely from the disaster the ploughman may Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry, But for him it was not an important failure the sun shone As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green Water and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky, had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

  8. says:

    Maybe I m an idealist when it comes to matter of the heart, romantic idiom, love and marriage, so it is hard for me to grasp the reality that some people actually live d as described in this book But with an entire novel Couples and a good part of at least two of the Rabbit books dedicated to the scenario of partner swapping and swinging, and other forms of adultery a.k.a cheating , I am pushed to accept that not only does this behavior exist, but that author John Updike actually did it Not as strong as some of his other works, this book kind of floats along with a sense of apathy and detachment, a kind of mirror of the main character, Piet Hanema, the catalyst of community wide relationship destruction in a small New England town in the early mid 60s Couples rests on the idea that everyone is unsatisfied, unfulfilled and unhappy in their marriages, and that good times are only to be found outside the sacred bond I found a lot of similarity between the scenarios presented in this book and the recent AMC original TV series Mad Men, which is set around the same time It s an interesting snapshot of the period Sexuality really seemed to be on the verge of something, perhaps fueled by and entwined with the popularization of psychotherapy for the masses, early women s lib, Cold War anxiety, the rise of the middle class and other socio political realities of the time As far as Updike s heroes go, Piet is much harder to like than Harry Rabbit Angstrom he s also not as well drawn The best character in Couples is the villain anti hero, Freddy Thorne He s got some incredibly sharp and funny lines.

  9. says:

    How innocently life ate the days.

  10. says:

    In November 2015, my rare book service sold a first edition, first printing of John Updike s Couples through our eBay account Below is the write up I did for its listing Like so many of the great authors of the Postmodernist era, John Updike by the late 1960s had already established himself through the usual channels of the Mid Century Modernist age before he had been a staff writer for The New Yorker, where he had come directly after his stint at the Harvard Lampoon, a prim and erudite New Englander whose precious Kennedy era books had already garnered such accolades as the National Book Award Ah, but then in 1968, Updike published the scandalous Couples, the moment one could argue that he went from merely a well respected academic writer to a national celebrity for among other things, the novel was the first mainstream book in American history to tackle the subjects of suburban wife swapping parties and casual drug use, which brought the topics into the realm of the national establishment conversation for the first time, a huge bestseller that coined the phrase post Pill paradise and which landed Updike on the cover of Time magazine, serving as a rallying cry for sexual freedom during the countercultural years when this first came out And of course, it didn t hurt the book s salacious reputation that Updike had based the anecdotes on the true stories from his real set of upper middle class suburban friends in Ipswitch, Massachusetts, a shocking development in reserved New England which made the book the subject of whispered conversations there for literally decades afterwards When combined with Philip Roth s Portnoy s Complaint and Gore Vidal s Myra Beckinridge, all three of which came out in the same 12 month period, Couples marks a watershed moment in American literary history, the messy and violent wrenching of the smooth and slick Modernist era into what eventually became the Postmodernist one and for anyone interested in collecting first editions from this period, this is an absolutely must have acquisition, being sold at a premium price today because of the exquisite condition of this particular copy but see Condition below for on that.

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