cover image Golf's Best Short Stories

Golf's Best Short Stories

John Updike. Chicago Review Press, $24 (400pp) ISBN 978-1-55652-321-2

John Updike, Paul Gallico, P.G. Wodehouse, Ethan Canin and Ring Lardner all contribute to this strong collection of 24 golfing yarns. Although Wodehouse, ""the bard of the links,"" sets the light tone (and the standard) for most of the collection with three stories, Canin's ""The Year of Getting to Know Us,"" is perhaps its jewel: a brilliant study of a son's relationship with his dying father. Updike is ironic in ""The Pro,"" while cheeky humor carries the day in his other contribution, ""Farrell's Caddy,"" which focuses on the off-the-links advice of a Scottish caddy. Among the several stories that score well: Kevin Cook's hysterical cheating fantasy, ""Me and Lee at the Open,"" Charles Dickenson's ""My Livelihood,"" a lively yet wry take on a lazy man who falls into golf as a profession, and William Pettit's world-weary but incisive ""Decision on the Fairway."" A few pieces lean too heavily on hackneyed victory-defeat plots, but these flaws will hardly scare away devotees of what Mark Twain called ""a good walk spoiled."" (Sept.)