Line(s) of the Day: Problems

Problems and other short stories

During the night, A, though sleeping with B, dreams of C. C stands at the furthest extremity or (if the image is considered two-dimensionally) the apogee of a curved driveway, perhaps a dream-refraction of the driveway of the house that had once been a shared home. Her figure, through small in the perspective, is vivid, clad in a tomato-red summer dress; her head is thrown back, her hands are on her hips, and her legs have taken a wide, confident stance. She is flaunting herself, perhaps laughing; his impression is of intense female vitality, his emotion is of longing.  He awakes troubled. The sleep of B beside him is not disturbed; she rests in the certainty that A loves her. Indeed, he has left C for her, to prove it. 

PROBLEM: Which has he more profoundly betrayed, B or C?

The opening paragraph of the astonishing short story Problems by the hugely talented John Updike (1932 – 2009). As well as being well-renowned for his short stories, Updike was a hugely successful novellist, including two Pulitzer prizes for his “Rabbit” series.

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10 thoughts on “Line(s) of the Day: Problems

  1. I don’t feel someone dreaming can be guilty of any unfaithfulness, Alex.
    maybe he has left dreamy C and thus is his betrayal. Great short story lead, thanks!

    • It’s a fascinating story. Updike reduces the man’s life to a series of mathematical style questions. I read it as a sort of tragedy whereas my uni flatmate at the time saw the concept as a comedy.

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