Thursday, October 6, 2011

"A & P" by John Updike

Source: The New Yorker Fiction Podcast (mp3)
Length: 29 minutes
Reader: Allegra Goodman

The story: People don't grow up all at once. Sammy, the narrator of this great short story, is a young man crossing the doorstep of adulthood. At the A & P Supermarket where he works, three girls come in dressed in swimsuits. Sammy's response to them is a mixture of teenage objectification mixed with the kernel of a more mature view. He seems to lurch between wondering if girls think at at all and feeling great empathy for them when a manager scolds the girls.

I love the character of this narrator. I never really liked Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye; Sammy's attitude is similar to Holden's, but much more interesting to me in all his flaws. I think that's because Sammy shows more promise of growing into a person I would want to be. In such a short introduction, Updike lets us know the hope and tragedy of being young.

Rating: 8 /10

The reader: As she says in the introduction, Goodman really enjoys this story. Her familiarity and love of the piece comes through in the vibrancy of her reading. Her imitation of the cash register's song made me laugh. One of the things I enjoy the most about the New Yorker fiction podcast is the discussion afterwords. It's always fun to see what they thought about the story and compare their thoughts with my own observations.

(photo by RoadsidePictures via flickr. Creative Commons by attribution non-commercial.)

1 comment:

Rasberryswrlgirl said...

Great review. I will have to add this one to my list of must reads.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and entering my giveaway. I have not read The Willows - but I will check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.