The John Updike Society is pleased to announce that the keynote speakers for Updike in Pennsylvania: The First Biennial John Updike Society Conference at Alvernia University, October 1-3 2010, will be writer Ann Beattie and painter Lincoln Perry.
Of Ann Beattie, Updike himself once wrote, “Miss Beattie’s power and influence . . . arise from her seemingly restless immersion in the stoic bewilderment of a generation without a cause.” A stylist herself, Beattie has been compared to both John Updike and John Cheever because she too chronicles life in America’s middle classes—the often small moments that lead to small epiphanies for her restive and slightly disconnected heroes and heroines.
Like Updike, Beattie burst on the New York scene with both a novel and collection of short stories (Chilly Scenes of Winter, Distortions, 1976) and has won acclaim for her work in both genres. She went on write six more novels (Falling in Place, 1981; Love Always, 1986; Picturing Will, 1989; Another You, 1995; My Life, Starring Dara Falcon, 1997), The Doctor’s House, 2002) and seven additional collections of short fiction (Secrets and Surprises, 1978; The Burning House, 1982; What Was Mine, 1991; Where You’ll Find Me and Other Stories, 1986; Park City, 1998; Perfect Recall, 2000; Follies: New Stories, 2005), with a novella (Walks with Men) and short story collection (Ann Beattie: The New Yorker Stories) scheduled for June and November publication, respectively.
One of America’s most talented short story writers, Beattie received the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in the art of the short story 12 years after Updike was awarded the very first prize. Both Beattie and Updike also won the Rea Award for the short story, presented by the Dungannon Foundation—Beattie in 2005, and Updike a year later. In fact, Beattie was on the selection committee with Joyce Carol Oates and Richard Ford the year that Updike was chosen to be honored. Both writers admired each other, and Updike chose Beattie’s story, “Janus,” as one of The Best American Short Stories of the Century. Beattie lives with her husband, Lincoln Perry, in Charlottesville, where she is Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.
Lincoln Perry is a painter of national reputation who has his own Updike connection. Fascinated by the interesting narratives and juxtapositions that can emerge from painting “groups,” Perry created and exhibited twenty paintings which were inspired by Updike’s Rabbit tetralogy. “A similarity between me and Ann is that we are very curious about narrative and narrativity . . . but we’re suspicious about the power, the implied resolution to stories,” Perry once told an interviewer.
Perry, who is currently Distinguished Visiting Artist at the University of Virginia, has had solo exhibitions in New York, Washington, D.C., Maine, Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. And he has been invited to contribute to group shows in Georgia, California, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, South Carolina, Louisiana, Idaho, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Arkansas—including the “Contemporary Realism” show at The New York State Council on the Arts and “New American Figure Painting” at the Contemporary Realist Gallery in San Francisco. Also a muralist, his installations are on permanent view at the Met Life Building in St. Louis; One Penn Plaza in Washington, D.C; the Federal Courthouse extension in Tallahassee, Florida; Cabell Hall at the University of Virginia; and Lincoln Square in Key West. He is represented by Eye International, DeWitt Hardy, Les Yeux du Monde, Lucky Street Gallery, and the Ogunquit Museum of American Art.
Beattie will talk about Updike’s short fiction from the perspective of a short story writer, while Perry will show images and discuss his Rabbit, Run series.