John Updike Featured
A few years ago, at a woman friend's all-female 60th birthday party, the silly question was asked: "If you could have had an affair with anyone, living or dead, who would it have been?" It got the obvious answers (Newman, Redford. Yawn) and my reply was Pierre Trudeau, which I don't think was a bad answer and which I didn't, in afterthought, regret. Until now. Now I think: I should have said John Updike! Why didn't I say John Updike?
I hadn't known he was ill and the news of his death came as a shock. The last time I saw him was three springs ago. I met John Updike only twice, in large group settings, literary events, and I did get a nice note from him once. But I didn't know him. Yet his books---particularly his early books, like Of The Farm---meant a great deal to me. We had so much the same background, a middle-class childhood in small town Pennsylvania, and he wrote about it so eloquently, with such attention paid to tiny details that triggered identical memories in me, that I felt the kind of personal connection that makes the relationship between writer/reader so unique at times.
Some of his later work became a little too erudite for my taste but I never lost the feeling that the writer I so admired and connected to, the one who carved a kind of beauty and truth out of the ordinary of our lives, was still there. I haven't read his last book, The Widows of Eastwick. I will now. And I will miss his presence in this world.