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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

An excellent example of updike's best work: pigeon feathers

John updike's 1962 story Pigeon Feathers in the collection 100 years of the best american short stories is an excellent choice representative of updike's best work - not only the topical descriptions for which Updike was justly famous but also the a young man's grappling with ice and fate. The story is one of the first in a theme that Updike would return to many times - his family's forced move when he was a teenager from the city into his grandparents' remote and primitive farmhouse, w all the attendant worries about money and loss of social standing. His alter ego - david kern - begins reading some of his other's old boos recently unpacked - so typical that moving books was an essential part of the relocation - and begins to question his Christian upbringing - what happens after death? Does the soul endure? He gets unsatisfactory answers from the somewhat insipid country minister and from his doting and intelligent mother as well. His crisis of faith is resolved when he completes a task of shooting pigeons that have nested in the barn - and examines feathers of the dead bird and surmises that a God who would take such care of the beauty of these feathers surely would not extinguish his soul - he would not let david kern die. The egoism here is astonishing but also so comprehensible for that's exactly how a sensitive teen such as he would perceive the world - centering on him - and in the process of attaining this revelation or true epiphany he gives us access to a whole world : the crumbling sandstone of the farmhouse, the outhouse, the dusty fields, the sounds and movements of the night, the kerosene lanterns (no electricity or plumbing) and of course the adjustment of a city kid not to these hardships per se but to loss and displacement - and to a brush w loss of faith.

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