From today's Writer's Almanac:
John Updike (books by this author) was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on this day in 1932. He wrote more than 20 novels, and more than 20 short-story collections, but he's best known for his series of four "Rabbit" novels: books about an average middle-class guy, Rabbit Angstrom, who has a boring job and marital troubles. The "Rabbit" books won many awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes.
Updike had started sending his stories, poems, and cartoons to The New Yorker when he was in high school. When he was a senior at Harvard, they finally accepted some of his work and even offered him a job; he moved to New York City after he graduated, but soon realized he didn't like living there, so he and his wife moved to Ipswich, Massachusetts, a little town outside Boston. He took a little one-room office on East Main Street, above a restaurant and between a lawyer and a beautician. He looked out over the parking lot of the Ipswich Cooperative Bank and hammered away on a manual typewriter. After his death of lung cancer in 2009, many of his neighbors remembered him as a down-to-earth fellow, a participant in several civic organizations, a guy in corduroy trousers who played regular poker with the boys. Others were less forgiving, recalling how he mined the town and its people for material for his explicit 1968 novel Couples.
John Updike said in the New York Times Book Review: "I'm willing to show good taste, if I can, in somebody else's living room, but our reading life is too short for a writer to be in any way polite. Since his words enter into another's brain in silence and intimacy, he should be as honest and explicit as we are with ourselves."Updike's novels, stories, and essays have met with varying degrees of my approval over the years. My introduction to his work came in late high school with a short story or two, but it was many years later, in 1997, that I became a fan. With our youngest children off to nursery school, the play group moms decided to become a book club. We chose In the Beauty of the Lilies as an early selection and I was hooked. The sentences, the vocabulary, the insights...it was one of my favorite books that year and remains my favorite Updike novel. I was less enthusiastic about Couples and The Witches of Eastwick. Around that time, I also began to enjoy Updike's contributions to the The New Yorker. I featured his story "When Everyone was Pregnant" here three years ago. His "Rabbit" novels have been on my 'to read' list for years.
Have you read John Updike?