THE MAPLES STORIES is an unusual format, being a string of short stories following one long marriage, of Mrs Maple to Mr Maple.
Updike is an immensely accomplished author. Try this wonderful description of a cabbage:
. . . the pure sphericity, the shy cellar odor, the cannonball heft. He chose, not the largest cabbage, but the roundest, the most ideal, and carried it naked in his hand to the checkout counter . . .
Note how he describes the cabbage as naked. I have never thought of any vegetable as naked, but these are the kind of lines along which Updike's mind runs. He is well obsessed with sex, as we observed last year on reading RUN RABBIT RUN.
It is Saturday; the formless erotic suspense of the afternoon – the tennis games, the cartoon matinees – has passed.
The erotic suspense of cartoon matinees?
Anyway, the Maples have a very depressing suburban midcentury American marriage. They are constantly going to suburban cocktail parties and having affairs with their suburban friends. It is all very repressed and alcoholic and dramatic. I had to say: get a divorce. Or at least take make every third drink a soft one. Beautifully written, deeply felt, I just found it all very difficult to relate to.