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1.27.2009

Rest in Peace: John Updike



Sad news that John Updike passed away today. He was 76 and suffered from lung cancer.

Updike was a very good writer. He created controversy, both amongst his peers and literary critics, but his writing was vibrant. He had a keen eye for detail and was an accomplished wordsmith. My students have always held his story "A & P" in high regard, making its discussion one of the more lively in American Literature.

Recent years have seen the passing of giants Kurt Vonnegut and Hunter S. Thompson. It makes me wonder if a new wave of "literary elite" will ever step into the public consciousness in anything close to the way folks like Mailer and Updike did in the second half of the last century.

Here's a decent overview of his career. It's interesting to note that, as much as he admired the scientific community for its thirst to understand the nature of the universe, he was never able to take the "leap of unfaith" necessary to distance himself from his Christian upbringing. Whatever you thought of him as a writer or a critic, it's certainly a changed literary landscape with him gone.

Rest easy, Mr. Updike, and thanks for the work.

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