I was sad to read in the paper yesterday that John Updike died on Tuesday. Just a few weeks ago I was thinking how he was immortal, publishing yet another book, a sequel to the Witches of Eastwick. I thought he had another ten or twenty years with many more novels to come; I didn’t know he was battling for his life.
He was my second favourite writer for a time. I came to grow a little disenchanted with him, but still rated him very highly. I have the illusion of being friends with him, or at least him being a kindly risque uncle I’ve had long conversations with.
I’ve been thinking of his line, ‘After all, you survive every moment except your last,’ as a comfort for my fear of death. But that was when he had survived it all too.
Now there’s no chance of a sixth Rabbit book. It would have been set in 2009, if he had continued the trend. I know it seemed unlikely, given he killed off Rabbit two books ago, but I always thought my hopes would come true and I would have another slice of the Angstrom world.
I will have to write a longer piece about his work and my interactions with it, but I’m at an internet cafe in Richmond and I’ve got to go.
the loss of John Updike makes me wonder if the literary world is being replenished at the same rate that it’s losing such great writers
Nathan Hobby said:
Interesting question Coffee. So many writers dying and I find it so sad. I think they are being replenished, though – I’m quite optimistic. Just in the case of Updike, I think he has two strong contenders as successors – Rick Moody and Jonathan Franzen. And both of these writers seem more comfortable chronicling middle America while also challenging it more than Updike ever did. The Corrections, for me, ranks alongside the Rabbit saga, maybe not as comprehensive a portrait of America, but as brilliant. Now if only Franzen could write a bit quicker!
Please find a completely different Understanding of death via this reference which is the most extraordinary statement ever written about the meaning and significance of death.