"The Afterlife and Other Stories," by John Updike. Fawcett...

Book Briefs

November 12, 1995|By Nancy Pate | Nancy Pate,Orlando Sentinel

"The Afterlife and Other Stories," by John Updike. Fawcett Crest. 320 pages. $6.99 Small epiphanies illuminate many of these 21 stories, most of them the familiar domestic dramas of the upper middle class. There's an autumnal air, however, as characters reflect on youth gone by, mortality growing ever closer. In the superb title story, an older man realizes, with some satisfaction, that there are "vast areas of the world he no longer cared about - Henry James, for example, and professional ice hockey, and nuclear disarmament."

"Snow Falling on Cedars," by David Guterson. Vintage. 460 pages. $12

This carefully crafted first novel provides more than just courtroom drama. As the trial proceeds, the author essentially puts the island on trial, alternating chapters of testimony and cross-examination with flashbacks. And as a snowstorm buries the island, Guterson's narrative begins to reveal the community's secret heart, the injustice that may yet break it in two.

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