September 2012

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Updike’s short story “A Mild Complaint” appeared in Ian Frazier’s Humor Me: An Anthology of Funny Contemporary Writing (Plus Some Great Old Stuff, Too) (Ecco Press, 2010) with this footnote, which appears in the author’s introduction:

“Also, unconnected to anything, here’s a note, just FYI: The John Updike piece, “A Mild Complaint,” which concludes Part I, was famous at the New Yorker as the piece that the magazine held on to the longest before it was published. Updike wrote the piece, and the magazine bought it, in the mid-1950s, when he was a young man. For inscrutable reasons the New Yorker then kept the piece for twenty-some years and finally ran it in the 1970s [sic, actually April 19, 1982], when Updike was in his middle years. The piece is included here as a testament to the resilience of literature, and as a wave to Mr. Updike, wherever in the afterlife he may be” (xi-xii).

Frazier’s remarks can be found in context at this link. Thanks to member Larry Randen for passing it along.

Jack De Bellis’ new book, John Updike’s Early Years (Lehigh University Press, cloth, 188pp), will be published in January 2013 and is now available for pre-order through Rowman & Littlefield.

Here’s the link, which includes an extensive description.

Here’s an odd Updike sighting: Larry Randen forwarded this item from The McSweeney’s Store, a San Francisco-based publishing company and boutique retailer. And on their website, under the category of “Limited Edition Goods,” there’s a sketch/portrait of John Updike for sale for $150. No word on how “limited” the edition is, and curiously Updike’s portrait is priced at $50 more than rocker Mick Jagger’s, but $50 less than self-described “liberal foodie intellectual” Michael Pollan.

The artist is Tony Millionaire (born Scott Richardson), a cartoonist and illustrator whose drawings have appeared in The New York TimesThe Village VoiceThe New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal. Fans of Adult Swim may also know his work.

An editorial published today (September 3) in the Reading Eagle, “Sale of Updike home a promising development for Berks,” touts the purchase as “a first step toward encouraging literary tourism in our area” and calls for people who knew Updike to consider donating objects to the museum and other institutions to consider ways they can use their ties to Updike to help attract visitors to the area.

Updike Society president James Plath will be a featured speaker at the Alvernia Literary Festival on October 8, and he will use that visit to Reading to meet with various parties to ensure that the Society continues to move forward on this project in ways that are beneficial to the community.

Here’s the full editorial.

Camden House has begun accepting pre-orders for Becoming John Updike: Critical Reception, 1958-2010, by Laurence W. Mazzeno.

The book provides a comprehensive overview of the journalistic and academic response to Updike’s writings.

Mazzeno, President Emeritus of Alvernia University, is a member of the Society. Here’s the link. No cover art is available yet.