John Updike tells good stories in his new collection, "Pigeon Feathers." What's more -- or, rather, what helps to make them good -- is his conspicuous devotion to the perilous marksmanship of words.
All readers are bound to be grateful to him for that. He is no Pater and he is no Joyce. Clichés and banalities he knows, have their valued uses in making a story flow. They provide comfortable, reassuring cadences -- and
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not just a book of very brilliant short stories; it is a demonstration of how the most gifted writer of his generation is coming to maturity; it shows us that Mr. Updike's fine verbal talent is no longer pirouetting, however gracefully, out of a simple delight in motion, but is beginning to serve his deepest insight, that his "Love's Labor's Lost" and even his "Romeo and Juliet" (that is "Rabbit, Run") are now behind him.