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Pigeon Feathers: And Other Stories Paperback – August 27, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reissue edition (August 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449912256
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449912256
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 8.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Electricity lights [John Updike’s] prose like a Christmas tree. . . . So full of fire and ice that it almost breaks through to some ‘fourth dimension’ in writing.”—San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Updike is not merely talented; he is bold, resourceful and intensely serious. . . . We hear talk now and then of a breakthrough in fiction, the achievement of a new attitude and hence a new method; something like that seems close at hand in Pigeon Feathers.”—Saturday Review
 
“A sustained pleasure . . . a world seen and described and interpreted by a subtle, poetic, intellectual, wondering consciousness . . . These are wonderfully written pieces.”—Library Journal

From the Inside Flap

"Some of the most beautiful writing in contemporary American literature is between the covers of this book . . ." BOSTON HERALD

The triumphant collection of short stories by America's most acclaimed novelist.


From the Paperback edition.

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

4.9 out of 5 stars
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"Packed Dirt. . ." continues from "Pigeon Feathers" with David Kern as an adult.
Peter
I love great literature, and bold and intricate thoughts expressed with wit and insight.
Michael B. Wallace
I only wish there were more collections of short stories written as well as these.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By MS Smithy on March 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
If there is, you have my attention. Maybe Isaac Babel's Collected Stories or Fitzgerald's Selected Stories. I've been writing for 27 years; I may have written three sentences that compare with the average in an Updike story. In "Flight" he captures more in several sentences about family than I've disentangled through an entire career. Sorry for being self-referential; it's a measure of my awe. Updike's magic is that he can tell a story in a single sentence. If you only know Updike through his novels, you're in for a treat. By my lights, this is one of the greatest living story writers and this is the book that made that clear.

Update: I'd take this down a notch, though still five stars. I no longer think Updike is one of our greatest story writers. It's his use of language that charms me. Now that I've finally completed Swann's Way, begun in 1989, I think Updike uses language more skillfully than all but the very best of Proust. But his story imagination, while always interesting, doesn't alter the light of day.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By C. Whitaker on December 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
These stories are sublime. Read "Flight" and try not to grunt with pleasure! And let Archangel take you on a trip through the magic of words. Updike is at his best here. "Pigeon Feathers," the story for which the book is named, will astound you. Each story is a gem. If you want to read fiction that is beyond the assembly-line garbage...far, far beyond...read this book. See for yourself that America is still producing world-class literature. If you are a writer of short stories, make this your Bible.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Farrow (brf5a@virginia.edu) on September 20, 1997
Format: Paperback
The images in these stories are so lyrical, so sadly ethereal, I'd not be surprised to find the pages of Pigeon Feathers flap invisibly from my hands and into those of a Pennsylvania native, whose land, childhood and eventual disillusionment are so heart-wrenchingly documented in this collection. "A&P," a staple of contemporary American fiction anthologies, is a companion piece
to longer, stronger stories, like "Flight" and the final two episodic stories, showcasing the defining moments of adolescence and young adulthood; moments when the voice inside assuring us of our own greatness and immortality grows fainter and fainter.
Philosophically, this collection is held together by the idea that beauty, love and fame are tenuous phenomena, no more substantial than
shapes of light skating across a room, or the images of a film projector (see "Flight"). This motif is always at the forefront of Updike's poetry and diction. ("The Persistance of Desire," which plays upon the indispensible role of eyesight, literal and figurative, ingenuously spins a pun out of the optical effect of the persistance of vision for its title.)
This philosophy rarely overshadows Updike's gift for an unorthodox, reflective style of narration. Conflicts figure prominently in every story, but almost always the battle is staged in the heart and mind of its protagonist. Updike is a Cicero and Keats blessed with a unique penchant for American storytelling.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 22, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a budding short story writer, myself; and no course, no workshop, no amount of instruction can subsitute for the lessons one learns leafing through and ingesting these exquisite paragraphs of John Updike. I find myself, in this volume, more than other Updike works, reading and re-reading the prose, even emailing sections to friends. Like a fine restaurant I want to tell people about, like a band that plays exceptionally well live which you get to catch on a great night, Updike, here, is "on"; he is at the absolute peak of his craft. I only wish there were more collections of short stories written as well as these.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Emma Snyder on November 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
There is little, if anything, one is able to say that can possibly capture the beauty or majesty of a great Updike story. The gentle yet exact measure of his sentences, the bewilderingly complex yet infinitely fluid (and eventually near-epiphanic) weaving of narratives, his control of internal characterization--few are masters in the manner that John Updike is a master.
And this volume contains his greatest story--possibly what I feel to be the greatest piece of literature in all of latter-half 20th century American literature (and we're including it all here, not just short stories). The last story of the volume: Packed Dirt, Churchgoing, A Dying Car, A Traded Car.
Enough with the theoretics and generalities here. This story can change your life. Or, at the very least, it can alter the way in which you interact with literature--what you can expect out of literature.
One piece of advice, though: read it in one sitting.
Seriously.
Don't get up, even just for a little while to fix something to eat. Don't read it bit by bit (it's long, so you may be tempted). And, whatever you do, don't look at the last page before it's time.
It may seem disjointed. It may seem an odd accumulation of narratives. Don't stop reading.
Two years, and a hundred readings later, I still haven't gotten over that first experience. What I wouldn't give to have it again...
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By j0equ1nn@hotmail.com on September 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is my introduction to John Updike, and I confess I haven't finished reading it. So I will try not to make comments that are likely to seem false to me later.
He writes with such compassion that it makes you want to reach out to the characters. Since you can't do that, it makes you reach out to your friends, and people in general. It helps you see past the antagonizing surface of mankind, and into their lovable weaknesses. He also abandons many conventions of the typical narrative, and to me, it just helps to point out the stories aren't as important as life.
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