Ipswich humorist shares his Updike dream

Updike had his Golf Dreams, and Bob Waite, who writes for The Local News in the North Shore area, had his own Updike dream to share with readers on July 13, 2023.

“In the dream, I discovered an unpublished John Updike manuscript titled Threesomes in his old office above the Choate Bridge Pub.

“My excitement was palpable. Could this be the long-awaited sequel to Couples, Updike’s 1968 novel chronicling the intertwining of 10 couples in a town called Tarbox? A town that bore a striking resemblance to Ipswich?

Couples also bore a passing resemblance to another New England-set potboiler, Grace Metalious’ Peyton Place, which came out when Mia Farrow was as pre-teen and Woody Allen was still funny. Except Couples was better written and more explicit.”

Read the full article.

The lighter side . . . of John Updike

Yes, he was a literary giant, but literary giants have comic moments and can become the butt of jokes just like anyone else. This week two news pieces provided laughs at the late John Updike’s expense.

Aine Toner wrote a piece for the Belfast Telegraph titled “Blurbing it out: why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover,” in which she interviewed writer Louise Willder on the occasion of the upcoming publication of Wilder’s new book, Blurb Your Enthusiasm: An A-Z of Literary Persuasion.

“I’ve got this letter from John Updike, which is one of my prized possessions,” Willder said. “I’d written a blurb for Couples and I can’t even remember the copy I wrote. I’m sure I would hate it now if I looked at it, but it’s a lovely letter from him. And at the end he just says, and he’s clearly not sure about it, ‘Oh my, have it your way.’ That’s how he signs off the letter!”

Closer to Updike territory, humor columnist Doug Brendel was inspired by the drought-exposed Lake Mead (Calif.) discoveries to speculate on what might be found in Ipswich under similar circumstances. In “Outsidah: If the dam goes, I’ll probably learn too much about Ipswich,” Brendel wrote, “The implications for Ipswich are clear. If the dam comes down, declining riverfront real estate values could be the least of people’s problems.

“In addition to a muddy hellscape of irate turtles and confused fish, decades’ worth of local mysteries will be suddenly and perhaps gruesomely solved.

“Children playing on the newly dried-out riverbank find a soggy box containing copies of John Updike’s novel Couples rounded up and chucked into the river by outraged neighbors in 1968.

“Hikers otherwise minding their own business stumble upon the carcass of that noisy dog that mysteriously disappeared from your neighborhood a couple years ago.

“It will be scandal after scandal.”

Cartoon caption contest writer goes all-Updike

A blogger who identifies himself only as Docnad on his blog, Attempted Bloggery, has published an Updike-inspired caption to a Benjamin Schwartz cartoon—his entry in the March/April 2018 Moment Cartoon Caption Contest. As he writes, “Moment is a magazine of Jewish news and culture.”

Why not have an oink-oink here and an oink-oink there?”
“How come Old MacDonald never wanted borscht?”
“You mean you really don’t care that it’s rabbit season?”
“Rabbi Angstrom? Rabbit Angstrom here. I’m afraid neither
one of us lives up to John Updike’s conception.”
“Dig, man, dig! Save a hand puppeteer!”
“We’ve had seven litters—what we call mitzvahs!”
“Here’s my impression of Bugs Bunny reading Rabbit, Run: ‘Eh… What’s Updike?'”
“How much might it be worth to you if no one were to
disturb your crops through, say, Sukkot.”

(Note from the blogger:  “Pigs and rabbits are never kosher. Borscht is made from beets. Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom is the protagonist of John Updike’s four Rabbit novels. His appearance in two of my submitted captions was the result of a suggestion—a challenge really—by fellow caption contestant Gerald Lebowitz. A mitzvah is literally a commandment, but in common usage it’s a good deed to perform. Sukkot is the harvest festival.”

Jon Houlon’s Talkin’ Rabbit blues now online

houlonAt the third John Updike Society conference in Reading, Pa., Jon Houlon entertained registrants with a song he wrote, “Talkin’ Rabbit (Harry Angstrom’s Blues),” and at the recent conference in Columbia, S.C., he debuted an expanded video version. Now it’s online, and those who missed it can hear his take on the Rabbit novels.

A word of caution:  like the Rabbit novels themselves, this video contains rough language and graphic sexual references.

Here’s the video.

Updike is still on The Onion’s satirical radar

As a fellow lampooner, John Updike would no doubt appreciate his inclusion in The Onion‘s tongue-in-cheek story of the “Top Prom Trends For 2015.”

“Here are this year’s most popular prom trends:

Live streaming feed for students who couldn’t get date
Moment of silence to honor our fallen heroes overseas
The Centaur replacing Rabbit Redux as this year’s most popular John Updike–based prom theme
Adult chaperones given two minutes at start of dance to explain why exactly they chose to spend night off doing this
Cash bar for dates 21 and over
Viennese Waltz continues to supplant American-style tango as preeminent dance
King and queen required to break at least five social boundaries in order to be crowned
More DJs ending night with special father-son dance
After-party held right in lobby of hospital ER
Many students are following up their prom experience with unprotected intercourse”