March 2014

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2014. today posted a story by Updike biographer Adam Begley—a segment, really, from Updike. For those who can’t wait to get a copy, it’s pretty much an official teaser:

“How John Updike Turned Everything in His Life to His Advantage in Fiction”

Updike will be published on April 8, and is currently available in hardcover from for $21.77 or on Kindle for $14.44.

The Friday, March 21 2014 post for The Bully Pulpit blog was titled “John Updike on Falling Airplanes and His Faith in a Fallen World,” in which the writer thoughtfully responds to a long “magisterial” passage from Updike’s Self-Consciousness: Memoirs.

“Updike is a writer who pulls the sublime from effortless, conversational sentences, affirming his reflection that ‘to give the mundane its beautiful due’ was the purpose of his writing style. And man, do you feel the power of that impulse in these memoirs,” JR Benjamin writes. He considers as well a poem by Philip Larkin and concludes, “Not to put too fine a point on the issue, but I think the contemporary American Church, with its Hollywood aesthetic and prosperity gospel, has lost much of that crucial, validating seriousness” both that informed both Larkin’s and Updike’s sense of religion and church-going.

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 9.26.45 PMA collection of 25 issues of the Shillington High School newspaper, the Chatterboxto which John Updike contributed both artwork and written features—is being sold on April 2 by Heritage Auctions.

Interested buyers may also place bids online, starting now. The minimum opening bid is $2000.  The mimeographed issues of the Chatterbox are from the collection of the late Barry Nelson, a classmate of Updike’s and the sports editor of the newspaper while Updike was on the staff. 

The 25 issues are from Updike’s junior and senior years, and include 81 contributions from him—including his famous “Ode to the Seniors” poem, in which the first letter of each line collectively spelled “Seniors Stink.”

A full list of the publications is at the Heritage Auctions website. Note that a 25 percent buyer’s premium will be added to the winning bid.

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 9.06.30 PMOn October 7, 2014, Everyman’s Library will publish a 50th-anniversary edition of Olinger Stories, by John Updike. Originally published in the fall of 1964 as a Vintage paperback original, this Everyman’s edition will mark the book’s first appearance in hardcover—and its return to print as a separate volume after being out of print for about 40 years.
Olinger Stories is being published in Everyman’s “Pocket Classics Series” in a format matching The Maples Stories, which was published in 2009. Random House offers this synopsis:
“The first one-volume hardcover edition of the eleven autobiographical stories that were closest to Updike’s heart. With full-cloth binding and a silk ribbon marker. EVERYMAN’S POCKET CLASSICS.

In an interview, Updike once said, “If I had to give anybody one book of me, it would be the Olinger Stories.” These stories were originally published in The New Yorker and then in various collections before Vintage first put them together in one volume in 1964, as a paperback original. They follow the life of one character from the age of ten through manhood, in the small Pennsylvania town of Olinger (pronounced, according to Updike, with a long O and a hard G), which was loosely based on Updike’s own hometown. “All the stories draw from the same autobiographical well,” Updike explained, “the only child, the small town, the grandparental home, the move in adolescence to a farm.” The selection was made and arranged by Updike himself, and was prefaced by a lovely 1,400-word essay by the author that has never been reprinted in full elsewhere until now.”

Suggested retail price for the 200-page book is $16.00, but the Amazon pre-order price is currently $12.05, or 25 percent off.

Adam Gopnik wrote a feature titled “A Fan’s Notes on Updike’s Long Game” for Humanties magazine, Vol. 29 No. 3 (May/June 2008) that finds him concluding that “if the persistent journalist in him is one of the things that has kept his novels alive, it is the satirist and humorist in him that have kept his sentences aloft,” further speculating, “Updike’s affinity for painting and poetry—the still felt desire to have been a painter or poet—is perhaps the secret fuel that keeps the prose shining and still in motion.”


Today, John Updike’s birthday, Garrison Keillor published a written and audio version of “Frankie Laine,” a poem by Updike that begins, “The Stephens’ Sweet Shop, 1949.” In it, Updike recalls the atmosphere of the popular hangout for Shillington H.S. students and pays poetic tribute to its owner.

“The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor, Tuesday, March 18, 2014”

Today, Berks-Mont News featured an article on the restoration of The John Updike Childhood Home, written by Emily Thiel, editor of The Southern Berks News and Community Engagement Editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers:

“Happy Birthday John Updike:  John Updike Society and Berks Habitat for Humanity work to transform Updike childhood Shillington home as museum”

imageJohn Updike would have turned 82 today, and while there aren’t a lot of birthday tributes on the Internet now, in 2010 a site devoted to famous persons’ birthdays featured Updike:

“Happy Birthday, John Updike, Prolific Novelist, Critic and Poet”

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 11.00.46 AMSo where will Adam Begley be on April 8, the day his biography Updike is published?

At least one event has been announced. Begley, who will be a keynote speaker at the Third Biennial John Updike Society Conference at Alvernia University in Reading, Pa. the first week in October, will give a talk at 92Y, Lexington Ave. at 92nd St., New York City. Tickets are available for his noon presentation, starting at $21.00.

Here’s the link.

UpdikeJim Higgins of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel posted another consideration of an Updike story yesterday, still fulfilling his declared purpose of “reading and commenting on a story from The Library of America’s John Updike: The Collected Stories each Wednesday until I finish the collection or give up.” One week’s post was “Wife-wooing.” His full intent is explained in an Introduction, and thus far he’s posted musings on:

“A Sense of Shelter”
“Packed Dirt, Churchgoing, a Dying Cat, a Traded Car”
“The Blessed Man of Boston, My Grandmother’s Thimble, and Fanning Island”
“The Crow in the Woods”
“The Doctor’s Wife”
“The Astronomer”**
“You’ll Never Know, Dear, How Much I Love You”
“The Sea’s Green Sameness”
“Pigeon Feathers”**
“A Sense of Shelter”
“Dear Alexandros”
“Should Wizard Hit Mommy?”
“The Persistence of Desire”
“Walter Briggs”
“The Happiest I’ve Been”**
“The Alligators”
“A Gift from the City”
“A Trillion Feet of Gas”
“The Lucid Eye in Silver Town”
“Sunday Teasing”
“His Finest Hour”**
“Who Made Yellow Roses Yellow?”
“Snowing in Greenwich Village”
“Toward Evening”
“The Kid’s Whistling”
“Dentistry and Doubt”
“Tomorrow and Tomorrow and So Forth”**
“A Game of Botticelli”
“Friends from Philadelphia”
“Ace in the Hole”
“In Football Season”
“The Indian”
“The Stare”**
“My Uncle’s Death”
“A Madman”
“Avec la Bebe-sitter”
“Four Sides of One Story”
“The Morning”
“At a Bar in Charlotte Amalie”

Titles with two asterisks he says would make his “hypothetical Best of John Updike collection.” Check back. We’ll add titles as he posts them.