"The Persistence of Desire"

Author and poet John Updike reads excerpts from his short story "The Persistence of Desire." Updike's characters tend to be superficially ordinary suburbanites with complex interior lives. By providing minutely detailed descriptions of common objects and actions in a style rich with metaphors, Updike adds significance to their actions and personalities.

In this story, a man visits an eye doctor and meets an old flame. This recording was made in 1969. The story is in two parts, and has been edited for length.

"Fanning's Island"

John Updike reads from "Pigeon Feathers," a book of his short stories. In this story, "Fanning's Island," he discusses how Polynesia became populated and speculates on the origin of cultural relics found on a remote island. Adopting the voice of a long-ago native warrior, he tells a poignant tale of men isolated on the island, their numbers gradually dwindling.

Updike's other published works include the novels "Rabbit Run," "Couples," and "The Witches of Eastwick." This recording was made in 1969.


Author John Updike reads from his book "Couples." In these sections, Piet attempts to manage two relationships -- one with his wife and the other with his pregnant mistress. Both excerpts demonstrate Updike's ability to focus on sensual details. Updike started his career as a cartoonist for the Harvard Lampoon. He studied drawing in England and was on the staff of the New Yorker until 1957. "Couples" was published in 1968, the year before this recording was made.

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