another kiss, via updike

and how in her narrow kitchen her great silvery breasts had spilled from her loosened Shantung dress into his hands as simultaneously their mouths fused in the heat of first kiss… ((Updike,  Beck is Back))

John Updike is known for his unusual turns of phrase and imagery, but before I get to that:

The last example I posted (the infamous honey jar kiss) many of you found revolting; nobody seemed to find it evocative at all. Someone pointed out (quite correctly) that it might have made a different impression in a greater context. But I still think this is useful as an exercise because what you notice — what jumps out at the reader, his or her first reactions — are important. So in this very brief take on a kiss, how do your reactions differ from the honey jar example? Or do they?

3 Replies to “another kiss, via updike”

  1. Well, the honey jar scene wasn’t revolting to me. It wasn’t working for me, but the whole licking can actually be very sensual, if described right.

    Now, this one. Well, my first thought was whoa! there are too many adjectives there: narrow kitchen, silvery breasts(gimme a break), Shantung dress (is there a need to describe the dress at that moment),etc. And their mouths fused?? Simultaneously? This whole sentence is so elaborate that it takes away from the actual thing. It’s their first kiss. It should make the reader feel the passion, which in my case does not.

  2. I’m stuck on “silvery breasts”. Perhaps the previous part of the passage said they were in the moonlight or something. Otherwise, the first image that came to mind was that she was some sort of reptilian alien. Okay, I’m joking but, really, the use of the word “silvery” in conjunction with “breasts” threw me a little.

  3. I didn’t read the honey jar kiss that you refer to, and I don’t feel like going to look for it. However, I can tell you my reaction to this one and it is much along the same lines as Lynn’s. I’m stuck on silvery breasts. How very bizarre sounding. Even if they are in the ‘silvery moonlight’. I’m also wondering how her breasts miraculously take on action of their own and spill from her dress without help from anyone else. I’m also put off by the fusing simultaneously.

    Overall, definitely doesn’t evoke passion. Just annoyance.

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