March 2013

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Picture 4The Library of America will publish John Updike: The Collected Stories, a two-volume set, on September 12, 2013.

Amazon has begun accepting pre-orders. It’s currently $46.35 (38 percent off the $75 list price), and a description of the two-volume set is provided on the Amazon order page. It features 186 stories, and is edited by Christopher Carduff, who recently edited Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.


We’ve known that John Updike won awards as a young man for his creativity, but it’s nice to actually see tangible proof.

The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards celebrate 90 years of creativity this year as the nation’s longest-running opportunity for students to be recognized for their creative talents.

As their website says, alumni winners include Andy Warhol, Philip Pearlstein, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Joyce Carol Oates, Ken Burns, and Robert Redford. Now they can add the name of John Updike, whom archivist Haley Richardson (of the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, a non-profit associated with Scholastic) discovered in a yellowed publication announcing the 1948 winners. As you can see from the entry below, young Updike won $25 for a gag cartoon he submitted as a sophomore under the direction of his teacher, Carlton Boyer (whose name is misspelled).   Read the rest of this entry »

Updike sculptureMichael Updike writes that “to my delight and mild horror my son, Sawyer (17), came home with this sculpture that he commissioned from his friend, Ben Wickey. Ben is an aspiring claymation artist and just a high school sophomore. The sculpture is five inches tall and features miniature copies of Rabbit Is Rich and Picked-Up Pieces. Sawyer explained in youthful honesty, ‘I knew Ben was good at sculpting old people with all their wrinkles and white hair, so I thought he should do Grandpa, then I suggested we make him a rabbit.’

“I do think ‘Grandpa’ would be very amused,” Michael adds.

You would think so, given Updike’s own love of cartooning, his remarks on comics (“John Updike on Comics: a dream anthology”), and his approval of the late caricaturist David Levine, who drew him many times—at least once, with rabbit ears. When Levine died, the Boston Globe related Updike’s praise: “In a shoddy time, he does good work.”

Seeing the detail (and the humor) in this sculpture, one supposes he would say the same of Ben Wickey. Perhaps in the future this young artist might give the world its first claymation short film featuring Mr. Updike—with, or without the rabbit ears.    Read the rest of this entry »

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 6.00.13 PMIt was David Foster Wallace who famously wondered if John Updike ever had an unpublished thought, and The American Reader has some fun with that notion and Updike’s reputation for producing a book a year.

In an unsigned “In Conversation” article titled “Excerpt: ‘The Collected Blurbs of John Updike,'” the Staff comes up with a gentle parody, cover and all, along with some legitimate blurbs.

No one from The American Reader responded when asked about the nature and genesis of the playful article, so we can only guess that as with all things parodic it’s part tribute and part criticism.

Here’s the link.

765224431_bb66698b67_mChicago-based blogger Levi Stahl recently posted an entry on Updike’s 1959 short story “The Happiest I’ve Been.”

He writes that “the first thing I did after reading it was make two copies to send to friends. It’s that good, full of sharp observations expressed in sentences whose every word seems diligently labored over, glowing with a sense that it was chosen through deliberation aiming at perfection rather than the logorrhea of chance.”

Read the full post at Ivebeenreadinglately.

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 6.50.31 PMIn his review of the newly published correspondence of Saul Bellow’s—Saul Bellow: Letters, ed. Benjamin Taylor—Leo Robson of the New Statesman writes,

There is also a generous helping of contempt, the sine qua non of literary letters. To Cynthia Ozick, one of the few younger writers he admired, he wrote: “It gives me something less than pleasure to be listed with the Styrons, Vonneguts, Mailers.” He acquiesces in a friend’s description of John Updike as “an anti-Semitic pornographer” and doesn’t much like Updike’s chief outlet, the New Yorker. Or, for that matter, the journal he calls the New York Review of Each Other’s Books. Or the Jewish magazine Commentary: “the language of the contributors is something like the kapok that life jackets used to be stuffed with.”

Here is the complete review.

Screen Shot 2013-03-18 at 6.33.57 AMJohn Updike would have turned 81 today, and for The Writer’s Almanac on public radio Garrison Keillor paid a birthday tribute by reading Updike’s poem, “The Sometime Sportsman Greets the Spring.”

Here’s the link to both the printed poem and the reading by Keillor.

image003Doug Brendel, who writes “The Outsidah,” a humor column about Ipswich for the local Ipswich Chronicle, has compiled another collection of his cartoon-illustrated columns in “an annual book of absolutely no interest to anyone outside of Ipswich.”

But the foreword to Only in Ipswich 2013 is a tribute to John Updike, and he thought that might interest Society members.

Here it is, compliments of the author:

foreword 2013 w-cartoon[1]

For those who would like to buy a copy of the book, here’s the Amazon link.

And for the curious, here is a link to Brendel’s website.

updikeofficeIf you haven’t renewed your membership in The John Updike Society by paying your 2013 dues—and only a fifth of current members have done so—please send a check made payable to The John Updike Society to James Plath, 1504 Paddington Dr., Bloomington, IL 61704. Dues are $25/year, $20 for grad students and retirees.

At a time when money is needed to move forward with the renovation of The John Updike Childhood Home at 117 Philadelphia Ave. in Shillington, member donations are now approaching $1000. Thanks to Bruce Moyer, Kathleen Olson, Gerald Connors, Livia Lloyd-Hawkins, Alan and Maureen Phipps, Steve Malcolm, Don Greiner, Jay Althouse, Kevin Schehr, Janice Fodor, Ward Briggs, Richard L. Chafey, and Mark Roosevelt for their generosity and for helping us get a nice start on raising the money ($10,000) needed to scrape, repair, and paint the outside of the brick building.

The John Updike Society is a 501 c 3 organization, and everyone who makes a donation will receive a letter of thanks and acknowledgment that can be used for tax purposes.

What’s new at the house? The single-story annex has just been remodeled, so now the Society can find a tenant to lease the three rooms formerly used as patient examination rooms by Dr. Hunter, who bought the house from the Updikes. Pictured is the doctor’s former office just off the front entrance to the original part of the house, which will be used as a gift shop for The John Updike Childhood Home. A still-operational x-ray viewing screen was left on the wall of one exam room as a reminder of the contributions that the Hunter family made to the house where Updike said his “artistic eggs were hatched.”

Screen Shot 2013-03-09 at 8.08.08 PMInterest in the Reading area is running high for Jack De Bellis’ most recent book, John Updike’s Early Years, which is already headed for a second printing.

Here’s the article by Bruce Posten:

“Updike’s roots focus of latest chronicle”