Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike (1932-2009)

One of my favorite writers....no one could make the ordinary so beautiful...

He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, the place he based his Rabbit books on.

I would get homesick when I lived in season-less Hawaii, and whenever I did, I would re-read some Updike. He made the midwestern Rust Belt where I've spent most of my life so vivid.

An excerpt from Rabbit Run:

Outdoors it is growing dark and cool. The Norway maples exhale the smell of their sticky new buds and the broad living-room windows along Wilbur Street show beyond the silver patch of a television set the warm bulbs burning in kitchens, like fires at the backs of caves. He walks downhill. The day is gathering itself in. He now and then touches with his hand the rough bark of a tree or the dry twigs of a hedge, to give himself the small answer of a texture. At the corner, where Wilbur Street meets Potter Avenue, a mailbox stands leaning in twilight on its concrete post. Tall two-petaled street sign, the cleat-gouged trunk of the telephone pole holding its insulators against the sky, fire hydrant like a golden bush: a grove. He used to love to climb the poles. To shinny up from a friend's shoulders until the ladder of spikes came to your hands, to get up to where you could hear the wires sing. Their song was a terrifying motionless whisper. It always tempted you to fall, to let the hard spikes in your palms go and feel the space on your back, feel it take your feet and ride up your spine as you fell. He remembers how hot your hands felt at the top, rubbed full of splinters from getting up to where the spikes began. Listening to the wires as if you could hear what people were saying, what all that secret adult world was about.


chris said...

I REEEEEALLLLY need to read those books of yours someday.

Anairam said...

I read Updike when I was way too young - in my late teens - to try and discover "what all that secret adult world was about". I need to reread him.