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Friday, January 30, 2009

Farethewell, John Updike.

John Updike, noted American novelist, died on Tuesday. No matter how you feel about his books personally, you have to respect the place he holds in American writing. The internet book world offered tributes to Updike this week:

• Slate magazine’s tribute to Updike (contributors include Tom Perrotta and Anne Fadiman).

• John Irving remembers getting Updike's mail.

• The New Yorker’s Book Bench blog’s tribute to Updike.

• Also interesting: Updike’s guidelines on writing a book review.

MLC has Updike’s Collected Poems: 1953-1993, which is full of poems that reflect the things Updike is known for: some are mildly profane, some are humorous, and some celebrate small, everyday things, like this one:


So near to air and water merely
and yet a food, green,
fibrous like a ribbed sky at sunset,
diminishing inward
in nested arcs to a shaving-brush heart
paler than celadon:
the Chinese love you, and dieters,
for you take away
more calories in the chewing
than your mass bestows,
and children, who march around the table
to your drumbeat,
marking crisp time with their teeth,
your dancer’s legs long as they leap.

Updike, John. Collected Poems: 1953-1993. New York: Knopf, 1993. 250.

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