July 2018

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A recent episode of Jeopardy!, an American game show that’s been around since 1964, featured this “answer”:

“John Updike wrote in 1960, ‘Gods do not answer letters,’ which referred to a ballplayer ignoring applause and not tipping his hat after a home run.”

And the question?

“Who is Ted Williams.”

Updike wrote what many consider to be the best piece of sports writing ever after he watched the Boston Red Sox slugger make the most of his last career at-bat on September 28, 1960. “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu” was originally published an October 1960 issue of The New Yorker and more recently as a stand-alone book from the Library of America.

Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu amazon link

The Guardian published another summer reading list—“Best summer books 2018, as picked by writers and cultural figures – part two”—in which everyone shares their reading agenda for the sun-and-fun months. Updike was mentioned again, but this time not for something light, airy, and Updike clever.

Writer-journalist Julie Myerson (“Living with Teenagers,” Sleepwalking, Something Might Happen), listed Updike’s Rabbit tetralogy as her literal “must-read”:

“Rachel Cusk’s Kudos (Faber) is one of the most astoundingly original and necessary books I’ve ever read. It made me laugh, think and cry. She’s my friend, but I recommend it without apology: I envy anyone who hasn’t read it yet. I was startled, but also very moved, by the almost abrasive directness of Rose Tremain’s memoir Rosie (Chatto & Windus). It did exactly what memoirs ought to do: made me want to rush straight back to her fiction. My ideal holiday (a bit of a fantasy at the moment) would therefore be a fortnight in Rome with all of Tremain on a Kindle, along with John Updike’s Rabbit (Penguin) quartet – which people have been ordering me to read for years – as well as Motherhood (Harvill Secker) by Sheila Heti, which I’ve been hoarding, and Never Anyone But You (Corsair) by the unfailingly brilliant Rupert Thomson.”

When in Rome . . . read John Updike?

The artwork is a detail from a Leon Edler illustration.