Licks of Love, by John Updike

Whenever one thinks of John Updike's work, one thinks instinctively of its obsession with sex. His new collection of short stories, which includes a novella titled "Rabbit Remembered," confirms this re­sponse. The stories express Updike's conviction--first stated in Couples, his notorious 1968 novel--that, in the absence of God, we have "nothing but sex and stoicism and the stars to steer by." In that novel he depicts five marital partners swinging and swapping in nearly every heterosexual permutation possible. In his even better-known Harry ("Rabbit") Angstrom tetralogy, Updike traces the career of an ordinary Pennsylvanian through four decades, commenting along the way about the changing social and political character of America during the second half of the 20th century. Yet Updike's primary subject is Rabbit's "inner urgent whispers," his all-consuming sexual desires that, when acted out, bring both glory and ruin.

 

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