cover image Golf Dreams: Writings on Golf

Golf Dreams: Writings on Golf

John Updike. Knopf Publishing Group, $27.5 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-679-45058-0

In his preface to this volume of essays and short fiction, longtime golfer Updike speculates that his addiction to the sport has ""stolen my life away.'' But this collection of pieces written between 1959 and 1995 illustrates that, even if his swing has become less supple, his ruminations on the game retain their vitality. As he addresses the frustrations, humiliations and rare ""soaring grandeur'' of the game, Updike's dry wit and ironic insight enliven such entries as a spoof on instruction books and an evaluation of viewing golf on TV. Essays range in theme from the specific (""The Big Bad Boom'') to the ethical (the moral imperatives of ""The Gimme Game"") to the philosophical: ""Many men are more faithful to their golf partners than to their wives.'' Generally, those pieces written originally for sports magazines tend to contain more technical detail, while the three short stories and selections from three of the Rabbit novels illuminate how a day on the links can reveal character and the hand of destiny. If there is a general theme, it is that golf can be both a mystical experience and infernal torture, what Updike calls ""the bliss and aggravation of the sport.'' Diehard aficionados will find all of this collection entertaining and meaningful; and even duffers will appreciate Updike's lucid prose and command of metaphor. Christmas sales seem assured here, with a resurgence for Father's Day next year. 75,000 first printing; simultaneous Random House audio. (Sept.)