he Widows of Eastwick
by John Updike
John Updike “still wrings more from a sentence than almost anyone else,” said Sam Tanenhaus in The New York Times. In this sequel to his “brilliant” 1984 black comedy, The Witches of Eastwick, Updike gives center stage to the sleepy seaside New England town to which the three title characters have returned. Updike’s prose makes contemporary Eastwick “more sensually real than one’s own neighborhood.” When one widow blames the soullessness of the place on “the death of sin,” we see all of America anew. Unfortunately, Widows is “embarrassingly” poorly constructed, said Christopher Kelly in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The three women we knew as sexually rapacious divorcees in Nixon-era Eastwick take 100 pages to return to the scene of their crimes, and we don’t meet the plot’s antagonist until the novel is two-thirds done. Worse, all three erstwhile witches now sound “like crotchety old men passing along whatever cranky observations occur to them.” In Witches, Updike respected these women’s powers enough to write about them with “awed malice,” said Emily Nussbaum in New York. Now that antipathy has “curdled into something like contempt.”
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- There's a number of reasons the grammar of this headline could infuriate you
- How to be more satisfied with your life, according to science
- 7 ways to quickly become a master at anything
- Today in history: The birth of the federal income tax
- The Warren Buffett formula: How you can get smarter
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
Subscribe to the Week