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.
This line of the day is clearly going to inspire me to spend the entire day in search of John Updike’s “Problems”. Thanks for introducing it to me!
It will be a fruitful search 🙂 From someone who enjoys (and writes such great ones) I’m really glad you like it.
Love John Updike! He’s a mentor for me.
He’s incredible, isn’t he? I found him years ago in a Mexican library. I read loads of his short stories, but Problems is still my favourite. And what a cover too!
I did a post on him well over a year ago featuring his book of short stories “My Father’s Tears”. Have you read it?
“Problems”. Hhmm. Maybe I’ve read it, but I don’t recall off hand. I’ll check it out. As a writer, I’m fond of this quote:
“Each morning my characters greet me with misty faces willing, though chilled, to muster for another day’s progress through the dazzling quicksand the marsh of blank paper.”
Thanks for the link. Please let me know if you read the story.
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.
This is very interesting how far off the two of your perspectives were on this singular story.