Monday, February 02, 2009

Reader's Diary #445- John Updike: A & P

Unfortunately it took his dying for me to finally get around to reading anything by John Updike. He's been one of those names on my radar for sometime, but I never seemed to make his books a priority.

I found a copy of his short story "A & P" online, and so, out of respect for Updike, I read it. It's a major relief that I also enjoyed it.

"A & P" is the story of Sammy, an eighteen year old grocery store clerk, who watches a trio of girls (presumably his age or slightly younger) as they walk through the aisles in their bathing suits.

Though the story is told through Sammy's perspective, his words betray him somewhat and that's what makes the story so interesting. While the story looks simple on the surface, with its everyday vernacular and easy-to-follow plot, there are greater complexities beneath the surface. Conversely, Sammy seems to imply that his actions are value based and of a higher ideal, when I suspect the reality would be much simpler. I believe that the girls are merely a catalyst for Sammy and what happened at the end would have happened sooner or later anyway.

Could Updike have been playing with the coming-of-age story? An eighteen year old who tires of his job and the establishment around him seems like a perfect candidate for such a story and at first glance, "A & P" might be mistaken for one. I, however, think it's a "staying-of-age" story. What do you think?

Participating in Short Story Mondays this week:
1. Ali- Ron Carlson's "The Clicker At Tips"
2. April- H.G. Wells' "The Door In The Wall"
3. Eva- My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead (an anthology editted by Jeffrey Eugenides)
4. Book Psmith- P.G. Wodehouse's "Up From The Depths"
5. Reading Derby- Julianna Baggott's "Five"
6. Lynda- Ye Mi's "Love's Labor"
7. J. S. Peyton- Philip K. Dick's "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale"


Ali said...

This one seems to show up in a lot of "how to write well" books, but I haven't read the whole thing. Thanks for finding it online!

Anonymous said...

I haven't read too much of John Updike either, but did come across some of his poems recently. This story sounds like one I'd like to read.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I think you are right, that this is an action that Sammy must have been planning anyway, and he just saw this as an opportunity to seem heroic. Good story, that!

Stacy said...

At his passing, I had only read an essay by Updike and read another to honor his life. Thank you for sharing this short story. I do want to check out more of his work. From his interviews, he seemed such a likeable man.

Teddy Rose said...

I read something by him once in like Jr. High School. I don't remeber what it was. I printed out the short story to read. Thanks for the link John!

Sorry I wasn't able to participate this week. I am crazy busy and read one short story that I had no idea how to review. I didn't care for it at all. LOL!

I'm off to see what short stories others read and reviewed for Short Story Monday