Tommy's Book Shelf is a wonderful shop! They sent me the Updike book and today I have been enjoying it. If you live anywhere near Greensburg, PA I would recommend you go there and buy lots!
Seriously I did get the opportunity to read a slightly unusual story by Updike called Believers. I thought it might be similar to Baxters novella of the same title but it is quite different. Baxter wrote a very serious story about a German couple living in America during world war II. Whilst Updike takes a more abstract swipe at the concept of belief. The story is unusual because you are never sure who is writing it, the narrator appears to be writing about himself then writing in the first person. I think it is all designed to confuse and intrigue.
I am also quite pleased when American writers feel free to talk about religion. The main character quotes St Augustine, some quite beautiful passages, slightly tongue in cheek but he seems to take the whole religion idea seriously. Whilst in the UK religion is never even taken seriously. Most people try deliberately not to mention it. The history of America is vastly different to Europe because I think the Puritans went to America with the idea of creating a spiritual paradise. In Europe we were 'happy to get rid of them'. Religion is something of importance to Hawthorne and even if he appears to dislike it, he is still dealing with it.