The Same Door

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First edition (publ. Knopf)

The Same Door is the first collection of John Updike's short stories in book form. It was published in 1959 by Alfred A. Knopf; this was the year after his first novel, The Poorhouse Fair, was published by the same company, a house he was to remain with for 50 years.


The book consists of 16 stories, all previously published in The New Yorker between 1954 and 1959, some in somewhat different form according to the title page ; the stories appeared in the magazine in the order in which they appear in the book.


The stories are divided into stories with a boyish protagonist set in an unnamed small town or in Olinger, Pennsylvania—the fictional name Updike gave to his hometown—and stories set mostly in New York and other cities, including London, with a young adult man often at the center.


The sixteens stories are:

  • "Friends from Philadelphia"
  • "Ace in the Hole" This story prefigures Rabbit, Run in having an ex-high school basketball star now married with a child.
  • "Tomorrow and Tomorrow and So Forth" This story has a high school girl in it named Gloria Angstrom, Harry's last name in the Rabbit books. See Updike's reasons for the name Angstrom, "stream of angst".
  • "Dentistry and Doubt"
  • "The Kid's Whistling"
  • "Toward Evening"
  • "Snowing in Greenwich Village" This is the first story to feature a couple called the Maples, Joan and Richard, all stories with them collected in a separate volume called Too Far to Go.
  • "Who Made Yellow Roses Yellow?"
  • "Sunday Teasing"
  • "His Finest Hour"
  • "A Trillion Feet of Gas"
  • "Incest"
  • "A Gift From the City"
  • "Intercession" The first story about golf, a lifelong Updike subject.
  • "The Alligators"—an Olinger story
  • "The Happiest I've Been"—an Olinger story


Writing about the author's second collection, Pigeon Feathers, in The New York Times Book Review, critic Arthur Mizener wrote of Updike's early achievement as a whole:[1]

"John Updike is the most talented writer of his age in America (he is 30 today) and perhaps the most serious. His natural talent is so great that for some time it has been a positive handicap to him — in a small way by exposing him from an early age to a great deal of head-turning praise, in a large way by continually getting out of hand, he has already written five books — two novels (The Poorhouse Fair and Rabbit, Run), a volume of verse (The Carpentered Hen), and two books of stories (The Same Door and this book). Read in chronological order they show clearly the battle that has gone on between his power to dazzle and his serious insight."


  1. ^ Arthur Mizener, Pigeon Feathers, The New York Times Book Review, March 18, 1962.

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