Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rabbit, Rest

Wow. John Updike died today.

This little segment of Rabbit, Run, where Rabbit is sheltering up the stairs from a little mechanic shop, stunned me when I read it.
(In fact, that whole book stunned me. And he was not yet 30 when he published it.)

The clangor of the body shop comes up softly. Its noise comforts him, tells him he is hidden and safe, that while he hides men are busy nailing the world down, and toward the disembodied sounds his heart makes in darkness a motion of love.


Anonymous said...

I always felt apologetic toward all of our wonderful creative writing teachers for being an unabashed fan of John Updike, whose output was so very (i) prodigious and (ii) commercially successful. Additionally, he was a fierce and rather tin-eared critic (he sliced and diced his own mother, for heaven's sake! however, that has nothing to do with his tin ear.). Still, he was a mellifluous prose stylist (but a crappy poet, by my lights) who could also actually compose a narrative (again and again and again). And besides, _Couples_ (a friend of my youth) is one of the best dirty books ever written.

M. C. Allan said...

Did all of our profs dislike him? I could understand a few (and really, reading him occasionally makes me feel car-sick, both because the writing is so good and because it's often such a depressing picture of people), but there shouldn't have been enough haters to make you feel apologetic. Feel apologetic if you like Danielle Steele or V.C. Andrews or something. :)

(I used to be embarassed about liking Stephen King, but I've gotten over it.)

I like some of Updike's poetry, though I haven't read as much as I should -- and I think he thought it was the best stuff he wrote. I seem to recall hearing that somewhere, maybe from the Anonny Mouse who drops by here now and then.

Word verification: Blayakin, a minor advisor to Satlin who was killed in a purge after failing to offer the great Leader an adequate amount of borscht at a state luncheon.

Josh said...

Who's going to take up the mantle of Realism now? That's what made Updike great in my eyes, and what gave the crystalline quality to his prose.

M. C. Allan said...

I'm not sure he's prolific enough, but James Salter could give it a shot. His last collection of short stories "Last Night" was amazing --and Updikean in their subject matter in some ways (unhappy couplings of the rich and white, beautifully, painfully rendered). That's one thought, but I agree -- it's tought to come up with contenders. Who else? Anyone?