cover image Trust Me

Trust Me

John Updike. Alfred A. Knopf, $17.95 (302pp) ISBN 978-0-394-55833-2

As the chronicler of a certain kind of upper middle-class, sophisticated culture, Updike has few peers. The 22 stories in his new collection cover familiar ground, but always with a resonance and relevance that deliver fresh shocks of recognition. In Updike's world, fractured marriages are a condition of modern life. Ex-mates, new mates or lovers multiply in complex arrangements, ""victims of middle aged recklessness.'' Adultery is not defended or explained; it is inevitable and routine. The children of these many-bedded partners pay the price for their parents' un- and re-coupling. A tone of nostalgia, loss and pain is pervasive; retribution is sure to be exacted. As Updike ages, so do some of his characters, men who in their 50s or 60s, who, like the protagonists of The Wallet and Death of Distant Friends contemplate ``the premonition of extinction.'' In all of the narratives, Updike's inspired gift for imagery is employed to stunning effect. One responds to these stories with a visceral feeling of empathy, of having been exposed to the essence of life seen through a master's eye. 50.000 first printing; Literary Guild dual main selection. (May)