In the Beauty of the Lillies

Updike, John

Knopf, 1996

p. 406

“A letter carrier, coming to the door every day, gets a sense of a home and sees things--women in bathrobes asking if he'd like to come in for coffee, cars parked out front that belonged on the other side of town, children left unattended squalling themselves blind upstairs, signs of the heart going out of a house by the peeling paint and broken screen doors.” Other things: “if they have the interest to subscribe to a magazine or two, if there are any picture postcards and hand-addressed letters from acquaintances who are keeping up in the world, or if they get too many bills stamped ATTENTION, if there are registered return receipts requested from some legal outfit.”