Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rabbit Is Dead. John Updike dies, but his work lives on.

According to news reports, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and writer John Updike died today of lung cancer, in a hospice near his home in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. One of our most prolific writers, having penned (or, more likely, typed) dozens of novels (including the Rabbit series and The Witches of Eastwick), short stories, essays, and poems, perhaps Mr. Updike simply ran out of wind.

In any case, his death is already being mourned in literary circles, rippling out into the mainstream media and beyond.

I personally could never get through any of Updike's novels, though I tried reading several over the years. There was just something about his style that I found... difficult. Though I don't think it had anything to do with his treatment of women. (He had periodically been accused of being anti-feminist by various critics.)

Still, it is a sad day when a great writer dies, though his work will live on.

To read more about John Updike's life and work, I offer links to these two obits, this one from The New York Times, and this other one from Salon. (If neither appeal, just Google "John Updike" to bring up hundreds of others, one of which, perhaps, will be more to your liking.)

And as we remember John Updike, let us also remember his famous quote from Rabbit Is Rich, "The great thing about the dead, they make space."

So here's to making space -- for the next generation of great writers, both the already discovered and undiscovered.

Rest in peace, Mr. Updike. Rabbit is no more.


EMM said...

I enjoyed Updike's Rabbit Run as part of a non-credit summer class at Georgetown. We read 4 novels and then compared them to the movies that were made from them.

marindenver said...

I read several of Updike's novels, including all the Rabbits, Couples, "S" (one of the funniest books I've ever read) and the first Witches. Also read several short stories. Others I could not get through. But he tried a lot of different genres and was a prolific writer. I think his greatest genius was his ability to capture the, I don't know, essence, of the time period he was writing about. The Rabbit series in particular. He deserved the Pulitzers he got for the second two and IMO could have won for the first two as well. If you ever want to try one of his again, try S. It's the story of a dissatisfied housewife who leaves her husband and family to go live in a guru community in Arizona. It's biting, wonderful, witty satire the whole way through.