Friday, 14 October 2016

John Updike Ohlinger Stories - 2014

“I have been told that the story seems to have no point. The point, to me, is plain, and is the point, more or less, of all these Olinger stories. We are rewarded unexpectedly. (…) In my boyhood I had the impression of being surrounded by an incoherent generosity.” (Updike, 2014, p.13).

“All of this machinery (at a fair) assembled to extract from him his pathetic fifty cents.” (Updike, 2014, p.20). “Only the money in his pocket weighs him; get rid of it, and he will sail away like a dandelion seed.” (Updike, 2014, p.22).

“It came to him that what he had taken for cruelty had been love, that far from hating her everybody had loved her from the beginning, and that even the stupidest knew it weeks before he did.” (Updike, 2014, p.34).

“He taught school in Olinger and spent his free days performing with a kind of panic, needless errands. A city boy by birth, he was frightened of the farm and seized any excuse to get away.” (Updike, 2014, p.41).

“”David,” she asked gently, “don’t you ever want to rest?”
“No. Not forever.”
“David, you’re so young. When you get older, you’ll feel differently.”” (Updike, 2014, p.54).

“A barn, in day, is a small night. The splinters of light between the dry shingles pierce the high roof like stars, and the rafters and crossbeams and built-in ladders seem, until your eyes adjust, as mysterious as the branches of a haunted forest.” (Updike, 2014, p.61).

“He dug the hole, in a spot where there were no strawberry plants, before he studied the pigeons. He had never seen a bird this close before. The feathers were more wonderful than dog’s hair, for each filament was shaped within the shape of the feather, and the feathers in turn were trimmed to fit a pattern that flowed without error across the bird’s body. (…) And across the surface of the infinitely adjusted yet somehow effortless mechanics of the feathered played idle design of color, not two alike, designs executed, it seemed, in a controlled rapture, with a joy that hung level in the air above and behind him.” (Updike, 2014, p.65). “he was robed in this certainty: that the God who had lavished such craft upon these worthless birds would not destroy His whole Creation by refusing to let David live forever.” (Updike, 2014, p.66).

“Between now and the happy future predicted for him he had nothing, almost literally nothing, to do.” (Updike, 2014, p.96).

“That she continued to treat me like an ordinary child seemed a betrayal of the vision she had made me share. I was captive to a hoe she had tossed off and forgotten.” (Updike, 2014, p.100).

“How incongruous! As if each generation of parents commits atrocities against their children which by God’s decree remain invisible to the rest of the world.” (Updike, 2014, p.102).

“It was a relaxed friendship. We were about the same height and had the same degree of athletic incompetence and the same curious lack of whatever it was that aroused loyalty and compliance in beautiful girls.” (Updike, 2014, p.125).

“”Oh, I like everybody,” I told her, “and the longer I’ve known them the more I like them, because the more they’re me.” (Updike, 2014, p.137).

“There was a quality of the ten a.m. sunlight as it existed in the air ahead of the windshield, filtered by a thin overcast, blessing irresponsibility - you felt you could slice forever through such a cool pure element. (…) And there was knowing that twice since midnight a person had trusted me enough to fall asleep beside me.” (Updike, 2014, p.142).

“”Aren’t you happy?”
“I am, I am; but” – the rest was so purely inspired its utterance only grazed his lips – “happiness isn’t everything.”” (Updike, 2014, p.154).

“he became a child again in his town, where life was a distant adventure, a rumor, an always imminent joy.” (Updike, 2014, p.157).

 “She knew, perhaps, what I was shocked to discover when, descending the steps with trembling knees, ad tingling all over as if from a bath, I went downstairs: that we have no gestures adequate to answer the imperious gestures of nature. Among deaf mountains human life pursues a comic low road.” (Updike, 2014, p.165).

“His prayers seemed to chip pieces from our hearts and float them away.” (Updike, 2014, p.165).

“her fears were not foolish. There was danger in that kind house. Tigers of temper lurked beneath the furniture, and shadows of despair followed my father to the door and flattened themselves against the windows as he walked down the shaded street alone.” (Updike, 2014, p.169).

“There was a time when I wondered why more people did not go to church. Taken purely as a human recreation, what could be more delightful, more unexpected than to enter a venerable and lavishly scaled building kept warm and clean for use one or two hours a week and to sit and stand in unison and sing and recite creeds and petitions that are like paths worn smooth in the raw terrain of our hearts.?” (Updike, 2014, p.181).

“In Manhattan, Christianity is so feeble its future seems before it.” (Updike, 2014, p.183).

“After we got home, and surveyed our four children, and in bed read a few pages made unbearably brilliant by the afterglow of gin, and turned out the light, she surprised me by not turning her back.” (Updike, 2014, p.190).

“Friends visited, and for the first time truly in my life I realized that each face is suppressing knowledge of an immense catastrophe; our faces are dams that wrinkle under the strain.” (Updike, 2014, p.192).

In the car: “the very music on the radio seemed a drag on our effort, and I turned it off, obliterating earthly time.” (Updike, 2014, p.206).

“we taunted the cold stars with song, one mile, two miles, three miles. How slowly we went! With what a luxurious sense of waste did we abuse this stretch of time!” (Updike, 2014, p.212).