Back John Updike

John Updike

John Updike, 1986. (Ulf Andersen/Getty Images)

Major works:
Rabbit, RunRabbit ReduxRabbit Is RichThe Witches of EastwickRabbit at RestThe CentaurCouples • “Pigeon Feathers” • “The Happiest I’ve Been” • “A Sandstone Farmhouse” • “A&P”

“In a way, what Melville did for whales, Updike did for upper-middle-class life in suburban America: He produced partly allegorical realist novels containing an encyclopedic array of the thousands of facets of human experience, all collected with loving attention to his subject matter.”—Orhan Pamuk, The New York Times Book Review

Read an excerpt from the story

The Egg Race

John Updike

The stratum of middle age has its insignia, its clues, its distinguishing emotional artifacts: the glaze of unreality, for instance, that intervenes in moments of what formerly would have been rapture. The middle distance blurs, and the floor appears to tilt, as if in unsteady takeoff toward some hopelessly remote point. New glasses help. The axis of astigmatism is rotating, the world is turning, the soul finds itself locked in a house with smeary windows. Contrariwise, the mail, once so pregnant with mysteries and stimulations, can now be read without opening the envelopes: photographs of the maimed and starving, angry petitions for justice, comradely appeals to the alumni, proceedings of learned societies, advertisements for undesired treasures, scholarly offprints, photocopies of photocopies. Into the wastebasket it can go unopened, cleanly posted to the void.

Read a passage from The Egg Race by John Updike
Library of America

A champion of America’s great writers and timeless works, Library of America guides readers in finding and exploring the exceptional writing that reflects the nation’s history and culture.

Learn More

From poetry, novels, and memoirs to journalism, crime writing, and science fiction, the more than 300 volumes published by Library of America are widely recognized as America’s literary canon.

Browse our books Subscribe

With contributions from donors, Library of America preserves and celebrates a vital part of our cultural heritage for generations to come.

Support our mission