December 2017

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One Grand Books asked celebs to name the 10 books they’d take with them to a desert island, and legendary designer Chip Kidd, who spoke at the 3rd Biennial John Updike Society Conference at Alvernia University in Reading, Pa., unsurprisingly listed Updike’s Rabbit, Run as one of his titles. His comments are incredibly insightful, starting with Updike:

Rabbit, Run, by John Updike
Whenever anyone asks me where I’m from, I ask them if they’re familiar with Updike’s Rabbit books. If they are, then they know exactly what it was like where I grew up. Updike’s father was my father’s high-school math teacher in tiny Shillington, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Reading. That the author returned to this completely unremarkable place for inspiration throughout his lifelong career is a source of endless fascination for me. I used to joke that it was like a great painter being inspired by the color beige.

But how about his take on Salinger?

Nine Stories, by J.D. Salinger
I know this is more than a little obvious, but it’s also the only book of his that I enjoy rereading. There, I said it. In both “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” and “For Esmé With Love and Squalor” are two very different and devastating depictions of PTSD, a full seven decades before it was a thing.

Or Nabokov?

Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
As a brilliantly merciless portrait of mid-20th-century middle America alone, this book is a masterpiece. But we all know it is much more than that. I tend to see it as an intriguingly fiendish parody of Moby-Dick.

Read the full article on Vulture.

John Updike Society president Jim Plath reports that he earned $10.70 for the society just by listing The John Updike Society as the charitable beneficiary on his account. He spent no more money, and did nothing special after the initial sign-up. All he did was bookmark Amazon Smile and the site automatically credited The John Updike Society for any purchases made. $10.70 might not sound like a lot, but if all of the 300 members shopped via Amazon Smile? It adds up. Go to https://smile.amazon.com to get started….

Thanks to the Robert and Adele Schiff Family Foundation, the John Updike Society was able to offer grants to scholars to help them travel to Serbia to present their work at the 5th Biennial John Updike Society Conference in Belgrade, June 1-5, 2018.

The society is pleased to announce the recipients of the $1500 Schiff Travel Grants for young scholars under 40 and also the recipients of the $1000 Schiff Travel Grants for members to help defray travel expenses so they can share their projects in Belgrade:

2018 Schiff Travel Grant Recipients ($1500)

Matthew Asprey Gear (“Mustered Opinions: John Updike’s Non-Fiction Collections”)

Natia Kvachakidze (“‘Words, words words’ Or Some Peculiarities of the Georgian Translation of John Updike’s ‘Tomorrow and Tomorrow and So Forth'”)

Lynn Leibowitz-Whitehead (“The Religion of Sex: An Evaluation of Its Effects on the Family Unit in Updike’s Couples“)

Gideon Nachtman (“Artificial in Essence”: Reevaluating the Critical and Academic Reception of John Updike’s Light Verse”)

2018 Schiff Travel Grant Recipients ($1000)

Louis Gordon (“Updike’s Middle East”)

Jon Houlon (“The Ballad of Henry Bech”)

Wei Lun Lu (“Translating, Rendering and Reconstructing Updike’s Stream of Consciousness: The Case of ‘A&P’s Translations into Mandarin”)

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The PECO Foundation has supported The John Updike Society’s efforts to restore The John Updike Childhood Home in Shillington, Pa., since 2012, and they continue to support the society’s efforts to turn the house at 117 Philadelphia Ave. into a literary landmark and museum with a new $10,000 donation.

Society members who attended the May, 2017 American Literature Society conference in Boston got to meet Roemer and Constance McPhee, who attended the society’s business meeting. At that time they were honored with the society’s Distinguished Service Award in recognition of their continued support.

Through their PECO Foundation, Roemer and Connie have contributed more than $80,000 these past five years to help with the restoration, making them the second largest donor, behind the Robert and Adele Schiff Family Foundation, whose initial donation enabled the society to purchase the home. This latest donation comes at a time when money is needed to purchase museum cases and to mount exhibits.

The David Foster Wallace and John Updike societies are co-sponsoring a session on “Great Male Narcissists” at the 29th Annual Conference of the American Literature Association, May 24-27, 2018, in San Francisco, Calif.

The purpose of the panel is to explore “Great Male Narcissists,” a phrase Wallace used to describe Updike, Philip Roth, and Norman Mailer in his acerbic review of Updike’s late work, Toward the End of Time. This panel intends to explore the connections and disparities between Updike’s and Wallace’s work, especially with regard to their depictions of masculinity. The aim is to complicate and introduce new ideas to both fields.

Here are more details.

Please note that the deadline for abstracts of no more than 300 words is January 15. Include your name, institutional affiliation, and contact information and attach your abstract as a Word document. Also indicate if you’ll need AV equipment and remember that scholars are limited to one presentation at this conference. Send your abstracts to:  info@dfwsociety.org.

ALA Annual Conference information