Books: Narrowing Compass

OF THE FARM by John Updike. 173 pages. Knopf. $3.95.

Joey Robinson, a spoiled poet who has become a high-level Manhattan publicist, returns to Pennsylvania for a weekend on his mother's farm. With him are his second wife Peggy and Richard, her 11-year-old son. While Joey mows the unkempt fields, the two women guardedly, and then unguardedly, spar over him, a prize that neither of them seems to want as much as they want simply to contest for its possession. The tug of war is academic anyway.

It is clear that Joey will never bestow himself on anyone.

That is about all John Updike...

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