Posted in Short Stories

John Updike: Gesturing (Deal Me In 2018 – Week 23)

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Dinner would lead to a post-dinner drink, while the children (two were off at school, two were still homebound) plodded through their homework or stared at television, and drinking would lead to talking, confidences, harsh words, maudlin tears, and an occasional uxorious collapse upward, into bed. She was right, it was not healthy, nor progressive. The twenty years were by when it would have been convenient to love each other.

John Updike tells great stories about people I don’t like.

In “Gesturing”, married couple Richard and Joan decide to separate because it’s what they feel they are suppose to do when each of them are having an affair about which the other one knows. Discontinuing the affairs never seems to be an option.

All the psycho-babble spewed out by Richard and Joan to each other over dinners and glasses of wine would become irritating and annoying if Updike didn’t make it so irresistible. Both characters would probably benefit by talking about the occasional gestures they each notice about the other as opposed to the shallow conversations in which they get lost.

And the conversations Richard has with his mistress, Ruth? Same thing just from a different angle.

short stories century

This story is included in my copy of The Best American Short Stories of the Century edited by none other than John Updike. I read it when I selected the Ace of Hearts for my Deal Me In 2018 short story project. My Deal Me In list is here. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.

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