Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Updike Remembered

Here are a few of my favorite tributes to the man:

Michiko Kakutani had some harsh words to say about Updike while he was alive, but in this piece she takes a more balanced view. In an interview with Sam Tanenhaus of the Times last October, Updike had a few laughs about the chilly reception he received from Kakutani, so it's nice to see her give him the credit he's due, while not glossing over his faults.

As I mentioned before, I am not wild about readings that equate Updike with Rabbit Angstrom, but the Guardian does so gently and with appropriate reservations.

Unsurprisingly, the New Yorker has a nice tribute to their most famous contributor of the last five decades. I'm expecting a large section on him in a forthcoming print edition, but who knows if that's going to happen.

James K.A. Smith responds to Updike's death with characteristic intelligence and sensitivity.

I was surprised how thorough and beautiful this AP writeup is. I especially appreciate the quote on Updike's inability to accept atheism, as I identify with it quite strongly.

This is my favorite of the blog tributes to Updike. I'm highly skeptical of any reading of his work that is not informed by theology, and Ben Myers gets it right.

* * * * * * *

As for me, I'll leave you with my (possibly apocryphal) favorite Updike story.

Updike and his publisher, Knopf, expected Rabbit, Run to be brought up on pornography charges, so Knopf went ahead and hired a lawyer, who called Updike at home in Ipswich, Massachusetts, to set up a meeting with him.

"Well," Updike is said to have remarked, "I can't be there this week. I'm teaching Vacation Bible School."

That about sums it up.

1 comment:

Tim Rhodes said...

Thanks for posting these. I've enjoyed reading their and your thoughts on everything.

That story is pretty incredible. :-)