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John Updike, rest in peace

 
 
Reply Wed 28 Jan, 2009 02:15 am
and,

from Martin Amis -
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/jan/28/johnupdike-usa



Me, I say, damn, I just read him about finding his hat in Arizona a couple of weeks ago.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,309 • Replies: 10
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aidan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Jan, 2009 02:35 am
@ossobuco,
I used to really like John Updike, but less so in recent novels/years so I'm surprised how much his death struck me and how sad this makes me feel. I think it's because it feels like the beginning of the end of an era for me.

He's one of the first contemporary writers I read (after Vonnegut).
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Jan, 2009 02:55 am
@aidan,
Updike was always 'other' to me, but so were many (many, many, many) other writers. The only book of his I'm sure I read was Couples, around when it was published.
I've followed him mostly in his NYer book reviews and occasional short stories. Maybe I've read him on art, but I don't remember, need to check.

I saw in some link that such and such was his last work. Huh, the piece about the hat in arizona was more recent.
Whether it was or not, it's how I'll remember him, sort of a duck out of water - to me - in Arizona, but a duck with presence.

aidan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Jan, 2009 03:10 am
@ossobuco,
He wrote about where I grew up - northeast US suburbia - right around NYC,
(except for the beginning of the Rabbit series). I KNEW the people and places he described and he did it really, really well. I still remember a sentence from one of his novels that described a middle-aged woman's underwear and I thought - Jesus- he's been doing my mom's laundry.

He was a very smart guy - but he became sort of one-note to me. All the characters began to mesh into each other - each Connecticut or Long Island suburb resembled the last. .I got a book of his short stories out of the library a couple of years ago and gave him another try - but nope - still the same people, same lives...

But still - I loved listening to him in interviews and reading his book reviews.
Very interesting guy - observations always right on target. His death is a loss to contemporary American writers (and readers).
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farmerman
 
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Reply Wed 28 Jan, 2009 06:58 am
I grew up in the suburbs and countryside where Updike was raised. NEar Reading Pa. His masked references to Reading , as the town of Brewer was always an Updike little joke about the number of breweries and bars that sold the goods in Reading.
He came to talk to us in HS years ago when he was "cool" to those of us that ate books like hamburgers.
His recent books on Buchanan (and Ford and Buchanan) are kinda funny because hes done them as plays (which will probably never be produced).

His family name (on his mammas side) displays his PA German heritage, and its a name that is as common as Smith (or PAtel in Inja).

His writing was always accessible and, were it more universal about the human condition , he could have won a Nobel in Lit. (Many of us in the Wyomissing SChool District would send letters to the Nobel Committee as exercises in 9th grade lit)
sozobe
 
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Reply Wed 28 Jan, 2009 08:05 am
@farmerman,
I hadn't seen the NYT front page yet, so learned about here (my response when I saw the title was "Aw, John Updike???")

The last story I remember reading of his (maybe the last one published) was a really poignant one about aging -- he wasn't always purely autobiographical but this did feel very personal, and I worried about him. So not a shock per se, but sad.
ossobuco
 
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Reply Wed 28 Jan, 2009 10:14 pm
@sozobe,
Some wonderful photos of Updike by Magnum photographers..

http://todayspictures.slate.com/20090128/
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 01:27 am
@ossobuco,
I tried to find the one that was on the front page of the guardian yesterday - incredible portrait that really communicated his sort of impish sense of humor.
It was funny - I was talking to the guy in the store as I bought the paper and he'd read Updike and was struck by his minute attention to detail in terms of characterization- he mentioned remembering a scene where a woman was sunbathing and she had one of those silver folding screens that people used to use to direct the rays to their faces...he'd never heard of them or seen one before that, and I hadn't thought of those things in years - but it brought it all back- days at the neighborhood swim club and all the ladies laying on towels on lounge chairs with those things.
He really was a master at describing all the minutia of that specific life.
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 04:10 am
HE had a bad skin condition in years gone by. I remember from his visits to our high school where he was always in rather high turtle necks and was clearly uncomfortable. I thinlk he was a long time sufferer of psoriasis? Then I believe he got it under control by medication.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 10:42 am
@ossobuco,
Weird - there were more photos on the magnum site via slate yesterday. Some very graceful moves by him at the beach. Got to check the regular magnum site. Maybe a photographer pulled some.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 10:52 am
@ossobuco,
Yep, the beach photos are gone from the magnum site too. Bet there's a book in the works. Which would be reasonable, they're very good photos.
0 Replies
 
 

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