Dear friend,

I have decided to read one short story by John Updike a day and so far the process has been okay. Some days I read and I find the story to be so incredibly beautiful and moving and wonderful in every way. Other days I skip reading and so have to read two stories the next day which is never fun because that means I am behind and so I become instantly overwhelmed by the page count before me. Sometimes, I will admit, I have skipped over entire pages just to get through the story so that I close the book wondering if I truly took in anything I was supposed to.

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The book is split up into multiple sections. This first section was good. I can’t say it was anything to rant and rave about by any means. The whole reason I came to this book was to read a short story titled Pigeon Feathers and I placed the book to be read in late March so that I could experience it with the warm spring weather fast approaching. Unfortunately, the spring weather we got in February disappeared in March and on the day I opened to the third story in this book, which just happened to be Pigeon Feathers, it snowed! So it seems this has been a combination of bad luck and poor timing. The universe does not want me to experience what I love most – reading a well written book by the open window on a nice and warm spring day.

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I am a bit sad that Pigeon Feathers came so early in the game because I really love that story and part of me wonders if lacking that anticipation can only make things go downhill from here. I truly hope not. I am excited to read the story A & P so perhaps that will keep me on my toes.

I should mention that it was nice reading these stories that were so central to this one region of Pennsylvania called Olinger. I’m not sure if it is a real place but being from PA, I found myself recognizing many town names and relating to certain sentiments.

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John Updike is a fantastic writer. I had to read one of his books in a seminar I took in college (spoilers – I didn’t read the book though I promise I will one day!). My professor told us how Updike was a super fast writer and wrote this huge word count every single day and all I can think is, “I barely can write a sentence a day let alone have a huge word count!” If only I could aspire to be like Updike, but unfortunately I am a bit of a snail and don’t know how to fix this genetic code of mine of being uncommonly slow to accomplish things I am passionate about. Any tips?

I will say that every single main character voice sounds the same to me. It is kind of jarring because reading from story to story feels like you are in the same story instead of a new one everyday. And even in the same one story, it can sometimes feel so long that you almost wonder if you’ve read two stories or are still in the same one. Like, in one story I also really loved called Packed Dirt, Churchgoing, a Dying Cat, a Traded Car, the first part shows us the main character finding a cat hit by a car and putting it in some nearby bushes to die and then the second part his father is very ill with heart issues and I had to remind myself that this was the exact same story.

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Last year I read an entire volume of Hans Christian Anderson works and I also tried to read the Bible everyday. I grew to despise both texts within not long after starting. I’ve made peace with both of them now I am happy to say, however it seems I am not cut out for reading a bit of something once a day. But I’m going to try and continue this without holding a grudge. Some days are better than others.

Until next time, friend. Danielle.

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One thought on “The Early Stories: Olinger Stories

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