By John Updike
320 pages; Knopf
If wit is a form of witchcraft, igniting sparks from airy nothingness, concocting a peppery brew of words, then John Updike's powers are undiminished. In The Widows of Eastwick (Knopf), a mischievous updating of his 1984 novel, The Witches of Eastwick, three newly husbandless, elderly, witchy (rhymes with...) women regroup to tour far-off lands, then return to the coastal Rhode Island town once cursed by their youthful crimes of passion. In wickedly glinting sentences, Updike explores the distinctly unmagical humiliations of advancing age and the prickly temptations of sin.