I leave the office for lunch and come back to the news that John Updike has died from lung cancer. Updike (1932-2009) was the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes and two National Book Awards. In addition to over a dozen short story collections, Updike wrote poetry, essays, criticism, and plays.
Updike’s roughly 50 novels included, amopng other things, ruminations on faith (In the Beauty of the Lilies), Muslim rage (Terrorist), sex (Couples), even Hamlet (Gertrude and Claudius). Though probably best known for The Witches of Eastwick (whose sequel was published in 2008), mainly because of the 1987 film, it is the Rabbit books, chronicling American life in the middle class like few books before or since, that will stand the test of time.
As an undergrad, I discovered Updike’s work through his Rabbit books. At the time, I had never read an author who wrote prose quite like Updike. I stopped reading him several years ago as his books seemed to speak less and less to me. However, I have fond memories of his earlier work and what it meant to those times in my life. Perhaps this is a macabre invitation to revisit old favorites and finally encounter newer and classic works I missed the first time around.