Toward the End of Time by John Updike
John Updike has written upwards of 50 books in his lifetime. The Beverly Public Library had nearly all of them on the shelf. What were the chances that I’d choose one that took place in my back yard?
Toward the End of time does take place here on the North Shore of Boston, but not in 2006; rather, in the year 2020. To me that date is one of two interesting themes in the novel. 2020 is no ordinary year. The US is just coming out of a nuclearly devastating war with China. Due to its distance from China, the Northeast is not heavily damaged. So life continues as it had pre-war; mostly.
It was interesting to read Updike’s take on Massachusetts in the future. There were many references to local sites and ‘current’ events. The “Big Dig” even makes an appearance! Since 2020 isn’t that far into the future the predictions were somewhat credible and encouraged my own thoughts about what the next 15 years may hold.
The main story surrounds an aging, retired gentleman (Ben Turnbull) and explores his feelings about how his life is changing. Updike is somewhat ambiguous about whether or not aging is a negative (or positive) thing. Turnbull is reevaluating relationships and activities, beliefs, politics and love. As the title suggests, Turnbull is moving towards the end of time, but maybe not as quickly as he thinks.
I found this to be a very thought provoking novel. I’m curious, though, seeing as Updike has written so many works; did I make a good selection? Have you read other works by Updike? Have you read this one? Are there others that you would recommend? I’d love to know!