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Synopsis

Museums and Women gathers twenty-nine short stories from the 1960s and early 1970s. It is John Updike’s most various collection, a book as full of departures and surprises as the historical period that produced them. Some stories, such as the title piece, have the tone and personality of essays. Others objectify the chimeras of middle-class life, especially life in a fictional New England enclave called Tarbox. The illustrated jeux d’esprit in the section called “Other Modes” place Updike somewhere between Robert Benchley and Donald Barthelme as a toymaker in prose. Crowning the collection are five scenes from the marriage of Richard and Joan Maple, a story sequence with the narrative interest and cumulative power of a novel.

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