Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Good Thing to Read Today Would Be "Rabbit Remembered"

I have been moping for 24 hours because John Updike died. He is the second of my favorite living authors to die in recent years -- Kurt Vonnegut was the first.
The death of a beloved author is so different, for me, than when any other celebrity dies. It may seem silly. After all, I didn't know Mr. Updike personally. It's not as if I was breathlessly awaiting great new work from him; to be honest, my Updikephilia is focused on just four books that he wrote many years ago, the Rabbit series. Nothing else in his vast oeuvre ever measured up in my eyes (not that I've read it all) and I certainly wasn't expecting him to top it in his old age.
But when I read and love a living author's work, I think some part of me always hopes that I will get a chance to meet this person, or -- even more far fetched -- that they will someday read my work and love me as I have loved them. Ridiculous, I know, considering my lack of accomplishment and renown in the realm of fiction and essays. But before, it was possible. Now, it's a grim certainty that my literary crush will forever be unrequited.
Nutmeg was with me when I heard yesterday on the radio that he had died at age 76. Like any sensitive child, she doesn't like to hear Mommy upset, but I couldn't help letting loose a loud "Oh, no!" at the news.
Today, of course, Fresh Air replayed an old interview with Updike, and again we were in the car. After every break, Terri Gross repeated that "Updike died yesterday of lung cancer."
"Radio!" Nutmeg yelled from the back seat. "Stop REMINDING us!"


Sara said...

Nope, doesn't sound silly. I remember WAAAAAY back when I was little, Donna Reed died and I was crushed. I watched her show every night on Nick at Nite when I was a kid, and when I learned that she died, I was devastated for some reason. I didn't know it at the time because I was like 8 years old, but I think I felt so strongly because she had become part of my daily life and I took comfort in watching her show every night. When I was younger I wanted to be an actress, so I'm sure that had something to do with it, too.

I feel ya...

Bert said...

I so love that kid.

Cindy Fey said...

I cried when I heard the news. Check out Updike's "Pigeon Feathers" - gorgeous short stories.