What follows is the story "Archangel," a quasi-short-short by John Updike that originally appeared in his collection Pigeon Feathers. I put up the whole thing, hoping that either 1) no one comes across this blog who might care about the fact that I've posted an entire piece of someone else's fiction, or 2) I'm legally in the clear, and have not, in fact, violated some literary executor or publishing company's copyright by making the text in its dazzling entirety available to "the public." You will find it after the jump.
Be warned, though; it's a tough nut to crack. My recommendation is to wait until a quiet, serendipitously free half-hour presents itself, and then to make some tea, and then to sit down and read the piece maybe three times through—slowly, perhaps out loud. Let it wash over you. The goal of comprehension in this case should be subordinate to the goal of sheer aesthetic appreciation. I have read it probably ten times, most recently on a weekly beat going back about a month, and honestly, I am still at a loss to say who is being addressed, whether the narrator is trustworthy, where this scene could be taking place, and so forth. But I love the story all the same, not least for the density of its play of sounds and images. In the future I intend to write a followup with some thoughts related to the theme of this post's title. But anyway. I hope you get a chance to savor this before I receive my "Cease and Desist" letter: