I must confess that I was hoping that this book would be a light fluffy fun read I really loved the movie and was looking forward to some light hearted revenge to ease the aching in my brain Unfortunately for me and my brain, the only things from this book that made it into the movie were the three witches, the horrible rich man wasn t Jack Nicholson just perfect in this roletotally disgusting but still Jackyou gotta love him , and the game of tennis Okay, maybe some other stuff too, but not much This novel is to its movie what Wicked by Gregory Maguire is to its musical Deep and Dark vs Warm and Fuzzy.That being said, it was still a good book Something darker that takes all our faults physical or otherwise and displays them right out in the light A view from the other side of the fence, you know, the side where the people we all judge live Here are these people, and they re doing these bad things, and look, here are the reasons they do them Not really good reasons, but still reasons And then, how they feel afterwards The way Updike writes or wrotewe lost a great writer this year you can put yourself in their shoesI don t think I have ever heard or will ever hear again a better justification for a woman who sleeps with married men Still not totally justified, but with this explanation, you have to say, Yeah, I can see that Reminds me a little of Watchmenpeople with powers are still people after all, with all the character flaws, but maybe natural reactions are harder to suppress, like picking up a Faberge egg with super strength Super powers don t come with super control Wishing the barking dog across the street would just shut up and die doesn t end with a dead dog, but if it didwould you be able to control yourself at two in the morning during a bout of insomnia and menstrual cramps Updike s descriptives were really potent and he seemed to have a pretty good idea of how the female brain operates even if he didn t present us in the best light So, over all a pretty good read, even though the ending of the book really makes the feminist in me go, What But my feminist side is pretty small so I ll have to read The Widows of Eastwick to see what Mr Updike had in mind for us I mean the characterssee what I mean about putting yourself in their shoes 26 years later.Favorite quote, It was nice to have yourself known by a man it was getting to be known that was embarrassing all that self conscious verbalization over too many drinks, and then the bodies revealed with the hidden marks and sags like disappointing presents at Christmastime But how much of love, when you thought about it, was not of the other but of yourself naked in his eyes of that rush, that little flight, of shedding your clothes, and being you at last. I read this book the way it ought to be read, or at least in the circumstances which are best suited for it.I was away at a beach house for a weekend in the middle of summer and had pretty much nothing to do but lollygag around, smoke cigarettes, and read this book.It s perfect for sunny clear skies and long hours drinking lemonade by the ocean The writing is crisp, quick and clear Updike s pretty much encyclopedic when it comes to writing skills and he s doing everything pretty smoothly here aphorisms, characters, vibrancy, plot, vividness The stuff is alive You can see it all happening in your mind s eye I was in Connecticut, and the book is set in Rhode Island, though one Yankee beach town is about the same as another, I reckon I ve been to enough.But there s something very charming no pun intended about reading the lives of some pretty sexy MILFs who have some magical powers, spunky libidos, and a whole bunch of whistful ruminations about the passage of time and the sagging bounty of youth.Fun, quick, a real pleasure to read, and kinda hot to boot.Only reason I really gave it two stars rather than three or four the above criteria is than enough to put it up there is because, ultimately, that s pretty much all I can say about it Not much to take away from this one, I say, sincewellI haven t actually taken much away from it than merely this. Toward The End Of The Vietnam Era, In A Snug Little Rhode Island Seacoast Town, Wonderful Powers Have Descended Upon Alexandra, Jane, And Sukie, Bewitching Divorc Es With Sudden Access To All That Is Female, Fecund, And Mysterious Alexandra, A Sculptor, Summons Thunderstorms Jane, A Cellist, Floats On The Air And Sukie, The Local Gossip Columnist, Turns Milk Into Cream Their Happy Little Coven Takes On New, Malignant Life When A Dark And Moneyed Stranger, Darryl Van Horne, Refurbishes The Long Derelict Lenox Mansion And Invites Them In To Play Thenceforth Scandal Flits Through The Darkening, Crooked Streets Of Eastwick And Through The Even Darker Fantasies Of The Town S Collective Psyche U, is for Updike 1 I would like to go back and never purchase this StarIt s not you it s me You know what It IS you, it is 100% YOU, Updike This book is AWFUL There are so many attempts to make this book edgy that it came off entirely underwhelming I mean, it took me over 2 months just to finish it for fuck s sake A 300 page novel two months That is actually unheard of, for me I found every reason under the sun of which there has been lots these last two months to not read this book Things I did instead of reading The Witches of Eastwick In no particular order Joined a pool league Joined ANOTHER volunteer committee Slept in the middle of the day, for no actual reason Re watched several cheesy chick flicks and dance movies Started and finished watching 3 seasons of Dance Academy and then started RE watching them Okay this ONE probably has something to do with Jordan Rodrigues, as wellWatched several episodes of Archer with the Beast Read at least 10 other books only three of which were time sensitive Buddy reads Went for walks, a LOT of walks Went to Costco and the grocery store ON PURPOSE, when we didn t need much of anything Went bathing suit shopping at the mall O.oOkay, I am going to assume you get my point I found every excuse NOT to read this book because Updike s writing is distancing and his characters are extremely difficult, nay IMPOSSIBLE, to give a shit about I am lost as to what even is the point of this book.There are three witchy women doing magic of varying degrees and having copious affairs with married men there is death and destruction there is selfishness, cruelty and the skeevy underbelly of humanity s tendency to judgment and heartlessness BUT it all amounts to nothing It doesn t mean anything And Updike s writing is so bland that the characters just sort of zombie walk around while all this is going on, without any depth or comprehension Sukie, Alexandra and Jane never come to life, and it s extremely disappointing I sincerely hope that my horrible book slump will be over now that I am done THIS.FUCKING.BOOK Category A book with magic. High Hopes will almost always set a reader up for a fall The excitement of chosing a book, THIS book, to begin my month Witches and spells to celebrate the Halloween spirit of October sigh Having never seen the film, or read any Updike novels before, I really did not know what to expect I only knew that I expected great things And sadly, this novel did not deliver many great things at all sigh A little over two weeks spent trying to get into a novel that is only 306 pages long That s an average of about 150 pages week That s an average of 21 pages a day That s an awful average Wanna know what s even worse than that average The fact that whole days went by without me even WANTING to pick this book up again when I first started it The characters were not really likable I could not find anyone that I felt connected to, or at least even slightly cared about Updike has this uncanny way of making them all ugly, even if they are supposedly attractive Pointing out every flaw though he went much easier on the woman The poor men characters in this book never stood a chance All are balding, bad breathed, hairy knuckled, sweating things Gross His idea of what women want, what women talk about, and how women act around each other was completely off base And coarse And he likened things about a womans body and attitude to things that didn t even make sense To things that made me cringe and grimace It was quite painful at times Imagine taking one of those eye clops toys they sell for the kids now, that are like a microscope, and can project images onto the television screen Updike uses the same format placing all the knicks and warts and liver spots and hallitosis out there for the whole world to read At about the 2 3rds mark, I found myself finally engaged in the novel and reading through the pages much quicker, trying to find out just where Updike was going to leave these three witches and their wacky zany neighbor 100 pages devoured yesterday Amazing Will I be reading any other novels by Updike, after this slightly disappointing introduction to his work Sadly, I may just pass Am I happy to have read it Eh Jury is out on that one, at this time Would I recommend it to someone Well, I did give it 3 stars, after all So, I suppose if someone told me they were looking for a book that involved horribly flawed witches and wasn t so much focused on the witchyness of those witches, then, ok, I could recommend this to them But I would have to be certain that they weren t looking for anything great Because then I would setting them up for a fall. I m generally a fan of Updike s writing, despite its tendency to flirt with misogyny, but this novel of his is barely readable Conceptually, it was a fascinating idea, and I can only assume it was the concept, rather than the actual novel, that triggered the idea for the movie. I wish I loved anything as much as John Updike loved the sight of his own words on the page The Witches of Eastwick has A Point To Make about the role of women in white, middle class, 1960s America And it makes this point by embracing one of history s oldest conceits independent women are evil They re witches And while the magical divorc es of Eastwick aren t burned at the stake of accused of turning young men into toads, they come close to the mid twentieth century version thereof Accused of being the town bicycles which is exactly the kind of term the scared, compliant housewives of Eastwick would use for them , lusted after by married men, whispered about in polite circles, and uninvited to the society parties They use their magic which yes, is literal and real, not a metaphor to get a leg up in a tennis match, or to play frightening pranks on the people who gossip about them, rather than following in the footsteps of their Salem and England predecessors by acting as midwives and abortionists The three witches Alexandra the sculptor, Jane the musician, and Sookie the writer don t give a fuck what the town thinks of them They gained their powers by freeing themselves from the bonds of traditional marriage, a point which makes way sense in 1965 than it does now, when most American marriages are approaching gender equality And thus, powerful and freed, they pursue their art and pleasure hedonistic delights their stuffy enemies might say to the neglect of their personal reputations who fucking cares anyway , their entirely besotted boyfriends which is part of the point in their joyful sleeping around , and their children.Which brings us right around to the forceful shoving of a metaphor down the reader s throat These women are terrible mothers Not only are they total floozies who have disrespected the sacred nuclear family, but they suck at taking care of their kids, who appear only as peripheral characters only one of the ten or so kids between the three witches is even named Witches divorc es sluts bad moms DO YOU GET IT YET DO YOU GET THE POINT JOHN UPDIKE IS MAKING IT S SOCIAL COMMENTARY, YOU GUYS If I sound annoyed, it s because I am This book could ve been so brilliant Instead it was about a third too long, just because of the author s penchant for writing around in circles And while the dialogue was beautifully natural and entertaining, the characters fully realized and individual it was clear that this book about three unusual, anti authoritarian, first wave feminist women was written by a man A man who is obsessed with the bodies of women Boobs, specifically I don t mind gratuitous nudity in books I dig A Song of Ice and Fire, you know It wasn t that a weekly naked hot tub orgy was a regular occurrence in this book It was the way the naked hot tub orgy was described It was the mid century literary equivalent of girl on girl porn filmed for the male gaze I don t know how else to put my finger on it But it annoyed me You know what else annoyed me Daryl Van Horn, the witches male counterpart Despite not having any magic, I guess he could count as a warlock Though the point of his character seemed to be Look at all this crazy shit a man can get away with that would get a woman metaphorically burned at the metaphorical stake The witches flock to him at first reluctantly, and then eagerly as his crazy eccentricity rears its head He delights in their company because, as we come to learn, they are everything he wishes he could be even though he has all the money, freedom, and societal power that will never be available to them But what bothers me about the relationship between Van Horn and the witches their group relationship and his caring individual relationships with each of them is how we re set up to believe these women are totally self sufficient, with built in bullshit detectors, who keep themselves aloof from caring about anything except their art and their coven And yet they re totally taken in by Van Horn It s clear to the reader as soon as he steps on the page that he s a fucking con artist And yet the witches are having too much fun with their tennis and their orgies and running around his giant mansion of a house to notice that he is not at all what he says he is If these witches are supposed to be so smart, why do they fall all over themselves for Van Horn I will say one last thing in the author s favor A great novel is about change Things on the last page should not be the same as they were on the first page This was JK Rowling s big failure, but it is not John Updike s I won t spoil the ending for you, but it was gratifying and natural and managed to maintain the integrity of the witches central premise without keeping them trapped in the cycle created through the plot.I desperately wanted to love this book, and to an extent, I loved the main characters But it failed to stick the landing And I realized that when I found myself skimming Van Horn s last lengthy, pointless diatribe before he left the book forever. Ugh I did not enjoy this book Read it for a class, otherwise I probably wouldn t have finished it As it was, the boyfriend had to endure some outraged ranting The characters were flat in the extreme, when they weren t being petty bitches And the message Maybe I was reading it wrong, but the message I got was that women are only powerful when they don t have men Doesn t matter if they leave the men, or the men leave them All that matters is the absence Then, when they have that power, they will use it to do petty and awful things They will also sleep around, because even though being without men is what gave them the power in the first place, they certainly can t actually be happy without men in their lives They will spend their days gossiping and neglecting their children entirely, even though they seem to do absolutely nothing else with their lives Then, when their idiocy leads them to do something truly reprehensible, they will decide that they were better off with husbands in the first place, and go off and get married, thus surrendering all their powers and negating the whole point Wow, I feel positively inspired John Updike, I don t think you and I are friends In fact, I think I will be avoiding you for the foreseeable future. My introduction to the fiction of John Updike is The Witches of Eastwick and based on 111 pages, it s going to take Elizabeth Montgomery wiggling her nose for me to pick up one of the author s books again Published in 1984, this literature is set in a quaint Rhode Island town described down to the flowers or carpeting where three bewitching women described down to their facial features and dialects become involved with a brutish bachelor named Darryl Van Horne Some might even say he s the devil Of the 1,000 approaches to that story, Updike s is so pontifical and pumped up with its own magnificence that it ceases to be ridiculous and just becomes unreadable.Set in the late 1960s where there is no love lost between the author and those kids growing their hair long, protesting the war and listening to those damn Beatles records the title characters are Alexandra Spofford, Jane Smart and Sukie Rougemont, divorcees or widows who ve all shacked up with seemingly every able bodied man in Eastwick Artisan, musician and writer, the witches of Eastwick are less committed to their craft creative craft or witch craft, of which Lexa seems the most talented as much as they re casting for their next male conquest They re each repulsed by Van Horne, the swarthy, super rich New Yorker, but all attracted to him as well.Let me start with what this novel is not This novel is not progressive in its portrayal of liberated women, with Van Horne breaking up the Thursday coven meetings the three women hold weekly Their development hinges on their relationship to various men They re not independent enough to see through Van Horne s wealth or have the self respect to reject his mansplaining Don Draper would approve of Van Horne s opinions on gender studies This novel is not horror or fantasy fiction in any reliable way and not particularly paranormal, though Lexa can alter the weather and will her enemies into acts of bad luck And finally, this novel is not readable She returned to putting up Mason jars of spaghetti sauce, sauce for spaghetti than she and her children could consume even if bewitched for a hundred years in an Italian fairy tale, jar upon jar lifted steaming from the white speckled blue boiler on the trembling, singing round wire rack It was, she dimly perceived, some kind of ridiculous tribute to her present lover, a plumber of Italian ancestry Her recipe called for no onions, two cloves of garlic minced and sauteed for three minutes no , no less that was the magic in heated oil, plenty of sugar to counteract acidity, a single grated carrot, pepper than salt but the teaspoon of crumbled basil is what catered to virility, and the dash of belladonna provided the release without which virility is merely a murderous congestion All this must be added to her own tomatoes, picked and stored on every window sill these weeks past and now sliced and fed to teh blender ever since, two summers ago, Joe Marino had begun to come into her bed, a preposterous fecundity had overtaken the staked plants, out in the side garden where the southwestern sun slanted in through the line of willows each long afternoon The crooked little tomato branches, pulpy and pale as if made of cheap green paper, broke under the weight of so much fruit there was something frantic is such fertility, a crying out like that of children frantic to please Of plants tomatoes seemed the most human, eager and fragile and prone to rot Picking the watery orange red orbs, Alexandra felt she was cupping a giant lover s testicles in her hand She recognized as she labored in her kitchen the something sadly menstrual in all this, the bloodlike sauce to be ladled upon the white spaghetti The fat white strings would become her own white fat This female struggle of hers against her own weight at the age of thirty eight she found it increasingly unnatural In order to attract love must she deny her own body, like a neurotic saint of old Nature is the index and context of all health and if we have an appetite it is there to be satisfied, satisfying thereby the cosmic order Yet she sometimes despised herself as lazy, in taking a lover of a race so notoriously tolerant of corpulence.There are longer paragraphs in The Witches of Eastwick and shorter paragraphs, but this is representative of Updike s focus, which isn t on character or storytelling but on his own brilliance at turning a word It s writing that is quite pleased with itself and satisfied with how well it has women figured out Despite the publishing date, this feels like a relic of the Swinging Sixties A film adaptation released in 1987 took place in the present day and starred Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer Nicholson s charms and special effects are the focus, while the relegation of the female characters to fashion accessories are a holdover from the obtuse book. man this dude Updike sure can drive a truck less endowed guys often like to drive around in the biggest trucks they can find, making up for that lack yet unaware of the implications of their too large vehicles this guy Updike drives his truck called The Witches of Eastwick kitted out with the biggest paragraphs and the longest sentences, musing on whatever the fuck he feels like musing on, his rippling brain proudly on display with no trimming or manscaping, his unshorn philosophical sack hanging full and heavy, his thoughts motile and vigorous, salty, manifold and he drives like there are no rules, let alone a speed limit so what does all that say about him is this guy overcompensating like all those other guys with their too large, too kitted out vehicles nah, his cocky nakedness shows me he s not he s proud to strip down and show his all, putting what is usually hidden out there to be admired the perhaps less well endowed turn away, annoyed and repulsed, his big paragraphs and long sentences and jutting prose an affront his man musk is strong and not for everyone.but isn t this book supposed to be about women the writing does astound, and that includes his characters, female and male alike the central protagonist Alexandra is impressively layered, a ruthless earth mother who casually fucks around and just as casually kills chipmunks and puppies and all of the crazy digressions are a marvel, so easy to get lost riding these dreamy trains of thought, so hard to disembark Witches of Eastwick is, unquestionably, a high quality product it has a scary intelligence to match its killer prose this slim book is intimidatingly dense, thick with ideas this guy Updike can write but can he write about women yes and no yes, he can write about women of course he can write about women he can write about so many things, including women he is an amazing writer and his thoughts on gender are never less than interesting, just as the women in Witches of Eastwick are never less than primal forces, never less than powerful except they are not truly powerful, being prey to their pettiest emotions except that, as primal forces , they are purely reductive archetypes these women crave men they succor men, enchant them, fuck them, become their muses these witches are the way men prove their manhood and the reason for them to get up in the morning and steal away from their wives these witches only find happiness when they find the right man these witches are a man s best form of support like a dog is man s best friend these witches only harm and kill animals and other women.it s a joke that this book was ever considered to be even remotely feminist it s laughable that cockproud Updike thought he was writing about female power, a power that patriarchal societies have denied it s hilarious that critics considered this an intelligent engagement with feminism when it defines its women almost solely by their relationships with men I guess 1984 was a tough year for female empowerment if this book was considered pro feminism testosterone writes about estrogen and the result is women seen through a very male eye.4 stars for the fully engorged writing 2 stars for the limp ideas.and so 3 stars overall.Thank you Davytron for recommending this book My issues aside, this was a rich and thoroughly enjoyable experience At least while reading it My problems came up after the book was put down The act itself was exciting and memorable it wasn t until later that the malaise and the feeling of hollowness set in Typical for me, I suppose I m a guy after all.
John Hoyer Updike was an American writer Updike s most famous work is his Rabbit series Rabbit, Run Rabbit Redux Rabbit Is Rich Rabbit At Rest and Rabbit Remembered Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest both won Pulitzer Prizes for Updike Describing his subject as the American small town, Protestant middle class, Updike is well known for his careful craftsmanship and prolific writing, havin
- 307 pages
- The Witches of Eastwick
- John Updike
- 06 February 2017 John Updike