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Americana: and Other Poems [Kindle Edition]

John Updike
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $18.99
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

John Updike's first collection of verse since his Collected Poems, 1953-1993 brings together fifty-eight poems, three of them of considerable length. The four sections take up, in order: America, its cities and airplanes; the poet's life, his childhood, birthdays, and ailments; foreign travel, to Europe and the tropics; and, beginning with the long "Song of Myself," daily life, its furniture and consolations. There is little of the light verse with which Mr. Updike began his writing career nearly fifty years ago, but a light touch can be felt in his nimble manipulation of the ghosts of metric order, in his caressing of the living textures of things, and in his reluctance to wave goodbye to it all.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Anyone who could still call a poem "Two Cunts in Paris" and expect people to laugh or get a touch of frisson is either a novelist or completely out of touch or both. Checking in with a collection of 60-odd lyrics from the period following his Collected Poems 1953-1993, Rabbit Angstrom creator, New Yorker mainstay poet-critic and American institution Updike delivers up wryly entertaining verse goods while paradoxically preoccupied with death and failure. "Death in Venice" watches two women try to resuscitate a dying man: "In the minute or two we watched, his face,/ seen upside down like some devil's, turned blue./ My wife thought they were doing it wrong,/ this pair slaving like whores at their client." The speaker of "Two of My Characters" laments "I wanted you to be beautiful, the both of you,/ and, here among real flowers, fear I failed." Yet he seems aware that such musings on others are evasive: "I have time/ at last to consider my life, this its stubby stale end / whither, and wherefore, and who says?/ But I fail to." Yet along with the anachronistic gender trouble and crabby melancholia, Updike gives readers a tour of the cities, art works and times of day he has known and loved and a life, however imperfect, emerges, "cruel as it is beautiful and frail." (May 23)Forecast: Updike is perhaps the New Yorker's most frequently published poet, so fans will be glad to have a selection of recent work with which they may be familiar. Rabbit fans who read no other poetry will buy the book if they spot it in-store, particularly given the expansive title.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In his first collection since Collected Poems 1953-1993, Updike travels across time and space, beginning appropriately with the frustrating culture of airports and motels, a world of "betweentimes" where the "TV remote/ waits by the bed like a suicide pistol." His tour of American cities includes a stop-over at Shillington, PA, his boyhood home, where a stroll through the graveyard inspires a brilliantly updated version of "Elegy in a Country Churchyard." And although he may express a nostalgic sense of loss for "the days of trolley cars, coal furnaces, leaf fires, knickers, and love from above," he can still vividly encounter the artifacts of the here and now in Scotland, France, Italy, Japan, and Brazil. Suffusing these later poems is an aching sense of mortality, as he feels he is chained to time "as to a wheel." In this highly readable collection of 61 poems his 51st book Updike once again proves himself to be a veritable national treasure. Recommended for all collections. Daniel L. Guillory, Millikin Univ., Decatur, IL
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 825 KB
  • Print Length: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (April 25, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007QPEE2M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,745,825 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional collection! May 25, 2001
John Updike is famous for his novels, of course, but I have been a fan of his poetry for 35 years, since Telephone Poles and The Carpentered Hen were issued in a single paperback volume called "Verse." While his best work was probably the adaptations of Yevtushenko that he did in Hugging the Shore, he has also had other triumphs. This book is his greatest of those. His early work was labeled as "light verse," but it was frequently much more. He wrote a great poem many years ago about a young man named Flick Webb, a high school basketball star turned gas station attendant. Flick was later to become his most famous fictional character, Rabbit Angstrom. The poem (I don't recall the title)contained such great lines as "...bright applauding tiers of Necco Wafers, Jibs, and Juju Beads." He has returned to that kind of vivid imagery in "Americana." For instance: "...brightly colored pools of candy bars; the men's room prim beside the equal-access women's; briefcases floating in a leather flock..." This volume contains A++ stuff of Philip Levine quality. Startling, remarkably perceptive and observant, beautiful but rarely obscure. You'll stop and read passages aloud dozens of times to whoomever you feel is worthy of hearing it. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars John Updike November 17, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great book - John Updike was born in the town I lived in and his father was one of my teachers - I can totally relate to some of his poems. Shillington, Pa is in the process of opening a John Updike Museum
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5.0 out of 5 stars A seasoned man (and poet) December 11, 2012
By maelje
In earlier years, John Updike's poetry often was referred to as "light verse" -- a term that also could be applied to humorous poets such as Ogden Nash. Even then, however, Updike's subject matter and style frequently transcended that label. Yes, his poems could be quite witty, but with subject matter ranging from youthful carnality to the corruptions of middle age and beyond, his was verse meant to be taken seriously, even if you were smiling as you read it.

It turns out, though, that Updike had a lot of growing to do as a poet. Contrast this with his arc as a novelist: His first, "The Poorhouse Fair," seemed a bit unsure of itself, but his second, "Rabbit, Run," was extraordinarily accomplished -- and it was published in 1960, when Updike still was in his 20s. Certainly, Updike has grown as a novelist, but his development as a poet has been far more dramatic. Compare, if you will, the frothy ebullience of "The Carpentered Hen" or "Telephone Poles," two early verse collections, with the more tempered and more formal "Americana," and you will see that Updike's journey has been remarkable.

This volume has Updike spinning poetic yarns about mortality, about travel, and about the raveling and unraveling of the human body with all its frailties. The work here is quite beautiful, yet in beauty there can be much heartbreak, and Updike is not afraid to explore it.

Updike also has turned more and more to formal verse as he has aged; this volume offers quite a number of sonnets, and they are very good indeed. I don't mean to disparage his older efforts in free verse, but his command of language and form here is quite impressive.

I highly recommend "Americana," especially for fans of Updike's novels who may not be very comfortable reading poetry. Updike's verse is accessible but does not pander.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent June 8, 2008
What can be said about such an outstanding author and poet as John Updike, except here is another fine example of a great writer. When does this man sleep?
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Note for "jannieruth" February 4, 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Note for "Jannieruth" Flick Webb is the subject of "Ex-basketball Star"
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More About the Author

John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker, and since 1957 lived in Massachusetts. He was the father of four children and the author of more than fifty books, including collections of short stories, poems, essays, and criticism. His novels won the Pulitzer Prize (twice), the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells Medal. A previous collection of essays, Hugging the Shore, received the 1983 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. John Updike died on January 27, 2009, at the age of 76.


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