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Golf Dreams: Writings on Golf Hardcover – August 20, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (August 20, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679450580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679450580
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,092,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

How lucky can an editor be? When legendary New Yorker editor William Shawn wanted a writer to review a book on golf, he could turn to novelist John Updike. Updike, a devoted golfer, was delighted to take on the assignment. That review of Michael Murphy's Golf In the Kingdom is contained -- along with essays from Golf Digest, The New York Times Book Review and other publications -- in Golf Dreams. Rounding out the collection of 30 pieces are excerpts from Updike's classic fiction, including Three Rounds With Rabbit Angstrom.

From Publishers Weekly

In his preface to this volume of essays and short fiction, longtime golfer Updike speculates that his addiction to the sport has "stolen my life away." But this collection of pieces written between 1959 and 1995 illustrates that, even if his swing has become less supple, his ruminations on the game retain their vitality. As he addresses the frustrations, humiliations and rare "soaring grandeur" of the game, Updike's dry wit and ironic insight enliven such entries as a spoof on instruction books and an evaluation of viewing golf on TV. Essays range in theme from the specific ("The Big Bad Boom") to the ethical (the moral imperatives of "The Gimme Game") to the philosophical: "Many men are more faithful to their golf partners than to their wives." Generally, those pieces written originally for sports magazines tend to contain more technical detail, while the three short stories and selections from three of the Rabbit novels illuminate how a day on the links can reveal character and the hand of destiny. If there is a general theme, it is that golf can be both a mystical experience and infernal torture, what Updike calls "the bliss and aggravation of the sport." Diehard aficionados will find all of this collection entertaining and meaningful; and even duffers will appreciate Updike's lucid prose and command of metaphor. Christmas sales seem assured here, with a resurgence for Father's Day next year. 75,000 first printing; simultaneous Random House audio.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am always a little at a loss to review a work like this which has 30 essays, short stories, and poems in it, humorously illustrated by the talented Paul Szep. Obviously, in a thousand words I cannot review each work. However, there's also no relevant way to give you an overview except to say that this is much of the best writing about golf that anyone has ever done, looking beyond how to improve your score.
Let me share a few highlights with you, much like you might compliment a golf partner on the best shots in his or her round. Imagine that we are all having a tall cool beverage while I do this after finishing a long, hot round.
I thought the funniest work was "Drinking from a Cup Made Cinchey" written in 1959. Updike has obviously had a golf lesson or two, as the other works make clear. This essay is a satire on all of those instructional articles that you find in Golf Digest. Updike begins by pointing out that occasionally there's a slip between cup and lip (but he humorously avoids that phrase). So he takes the simple task of picking up a cup and drinking something from it, and writes it up in golf instructional style. I couldn't stop laughing. I think I got a better idea of the golf swing from this non-golf swing instruction than I ever did from taking a lesson!
"Swing Thoughts" from 1984 captures the problems that we all have with using the conscious mind too much, but with more self-consciousness than even the most self-conscious golfer ever had.
The part I least agreed with was "The Trouble with a Caddie." Updike doesn't like them, but I find having a caddie one of the pleasures of the game. He dislikes everything from the company to handling the tip.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By william woolum on March 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
When John Updike brings the depth and breadth of his intelligence to bear upon a subject, the light of his insight and wisdom radiates from his silky prose. One expects to be enlightened as he reviews contemporary novels or tackles current questions of theology. I didn't know what to expect from his essays on golf, but having read "Golf Dreams", I would say that Updike loves this enigmatic game every bit as much as he loves fiction, theology, and philosophy. If we find a writer's love in his attention to detail, then in these essays Updike shares his deep love not only in the details of the game itself, but in the details of playing of golf in New England and his love for his golfing companions. It is as if in a life of a writing discipline, book tours, speaking engagements, and other demands, Updike can rely upon the fidelity of his foursome and the bucolic mysticism of golf itself as a source of constant and dependable pleasure. Fortunately, because like most of us who play, Updike's pleasure does not depend upon his mastery of the game; but our reading pleasure does depend on Updike's mastery of lucid prose to express his golf dreams.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 13, 1998
Format: Audio Cassette
A collection of pieces about golf, mostly bad golf. These essays and short stories have appeared in Golf Digest & The New Yorker, so some you may have already read, BUT you haven't heard them read by the author! There always seems to be a specialness given to any piece read by the author. Though any reader may be coached to the correct inflection, the author truly knows how his story is to be read; where the pauses are, how the intonation and pacing should be. The stories themselves are from the perspective of the player, the hacker who loves the game though his scorecards seldom show the game loving him. The piece on how the popularity of the game is endangering the sport, studies the subject from many angles and shows Updike a genuine lover of the game, no matter what the condition of the course or length of wait on the tee.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 27, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Updike's compilation is a pleasure to read. Terrific essays especially. There is a strong bond between all obsessed golfers. You will certainly laugh aloud. This book I feel is meant a little more for the golf player than simply an Updike fan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brian Brisbane on June 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
Updike writes about golf's mysteries and travails from an everyman's point-of-view, but with a delicious turn of phrase which we all wish we could wax when recounting our games. Barring the odd essay, this collection is a delight of insight, wit and humility. As a fan of Mark Frost's golfing social histories, Updike's personal histories are a fantastic addition to any golf library.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I'm finding out that Updike was a marvelous essayist with a command of slang and an impressive knowledge of life in that very old part of America called New England.

Updike's Golf Dreams could only have been written by a nice old guy, very down to earth. Before now, I have only really liked his novel, S.

When it was new, I read The Poorhouse Fair, but I didn't understand it. After that came Rabbit Run, which was a downer. The other Rabbits have been okay, and Rabbit Is Rich was good, but Rabbit is a despicable character is most ways. Reading his life depresses me.

Anyway, up until now I saw Updike as a skinny dork who probably always wore a tie and never learned to bodysurf.

Golf Dreams redeems.
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