I was shocked to find John Updike's obituary at the top of Google news stories. I had not even known that he was unwell. This is a terrible loss in American literature. It is saddening to think that one of the better writers of the past thirty years plus has died today of lung cancer at age 76.
First, here are a collection of obits to read:
John Updike was the author of numerous highly awarded books. The Rabbit Novels will probably always remain the centerpiece of his legacy:
(1960) Rabbit, Run
(1971) Rabbit Redux
(1981) Rabbit Is Rich
(1990) Rabbit At Rest
(2001) Rabbit Remembered
Rabbit is Rich won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award that year. Rabbit at Rest won him a second Pulitzer Prize, one of the few modern authors to accomplish this feat. The novels are about, in a nutshell, the emotional struggles of Harry Angstrom, a high school basketball star who feels unhappy because life did not offer him all he hoped it would. It is written in first person present tense, and done very well for such a difficult technique. The series later documented his midlife crisis and old age. He was also awarded a first National Book Award for his novel The Centuar, a huge success, and published when he was only 30 years old, making him the second youngest winner of the award behind Phillip Roth who was an insanely young 27 when he won it in 1960 for Goodbye, Colombus. I have yet to read it, but I want to.
I had really enjoyed reading his Rabbit Novels and am saddened on a personal level to see such an admirable and talented writer go.
However he wasn't just known for those novels, he also published nine books of poetry, thirteen books of short stories, and ten books of criticism as well as fifteen other novels. He left an enormous volume of high quality work for his many fans and greatly enriched American literature as well. His prodigious output is a rarity among talented and literary authors.
He was long considered one of the masters of present tense sentence by sentence writers and was also considered one of the premier short story writers and critiques.
He long suffered from psoriasis, a fact that he always said ended being the reason he became a good writer, (due to the embarrassment, shyness, and alienation). He has two grandchildren who are half black, with their father being being from Africa, and in his memoir Self Consciousness he eloquently and touchingly writes to them telling them not to be ashamed of their skin color. His best memoirs is Self Consciousness.
The American Literary Community is lessened today by the departure of a great man, a giant among so many.
P.S. Please vote in my poll. I use it as a counter to know how many people read a given thing. Sounds little, but it's important to me. And, the thread below is an open thread to talk about what you've been reading lately and American Literature in general, any thoughts you've had or have, plenty of people would be interested to discuss everything with you and compare and suggest books, and John updike in particular. Now is the fitting time to remember him and hid works fondly and as our own eulogy I'd like his fans to post and talk about their favorite Updike book.