Friday, January 27, 2012

Thoughts on John Updike, Two Years After His Death


John Updike died two years ago today, at the age of 76.  I was teaching AP comp at the time, and I had recently finished teaching my students "A & P" and "Deaths of Distant Friends" when I saw the news of his death.  I went out in the hall and saw one of my students, Lasey,  passing between classes.

"Lasey, John Updike died," I said.

"Who's John Updike?" she asked.

Updike was writing until his final days, and his last book, Endpoint, includes "Requiem," his last poem.  It was also published in the New York Times on the day after his death.


Requiem

It came to me the other day:
Were I to die, no one would say,
“Oh, what a shame! So young, so full
Of promise — depths unplumbable!”
Instead, a shrug and tearless eyes
Will greet my overdue demise;
The wide response will be, I know,
“I thought he died a while ago.”
For life’s a shabby subterfuge,
And death is real, and dark, and huge.
The shock of it will register
Nowhere but where it will occur.

 JOHN UPDIKE


For no good reason whatever, here are some of my favorite works by John Updike, arranged by genre.

Novels:
Rabbit, Redux 
Rabbit is Rich


Short Fiction:
"A & P,"
"Death of Distant Friends,"
"Still of Some Use"

Poem:
"Capacity"

Non-Fiction:
"Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," naturally

Children's Books:
A Child's Calendar


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