April 2014
« Jan    

Rabbit at Rest: John Updike, Dead at 76

John Updike dead:

Updike passed away Tuesday morning after battling lung cancer. He lived in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. “He was one of our greatest writers, and he will be sorely missed,” said Nicholas Latimer, vice president of publicity at Updike’s publisher, Alfred A. Knopf.

Updike was a rarity among American writers: a much-esteemed, prize-winning author whose books — including “Rabbit, Run” (1960), “Couples” (1968), “The Witches of Eastwick” (1984) and “Terrorist” (2006) — were also best-sellers. Updike won the Pulitzer Prize twice: for “Rabbit Is Rich” (1981) and its successor, “Rabbit at Rest” (1991). Updike was incredibly prolific, penning essays, reviews, short stories, poetry and memoirs. His works frequently appeared in The New Yorker, including a famed 1960 essay about Ted Williams’ final game, “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.”

The “Rabbit” series, about an angst-ridden car dealer in a town much like Updike’s hometown of Shillington, Pennsylvania, spanned four novels, a novella and four decades. In the books — which also included 1971′s “Rabbit Redux” and a 2001 novella, “Rabbit Remembered” — onetime basketball star Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom negotiates marriage, divorce, wealth and health problems, never quite understanding the larger forces shaping his life.  Many critics accused him of misogyny, and others accused him of using his graceful prose to cover thin subject matter — and Updike put out his prose by the ream.

“An aging writer has the not insignificant satisfaction of a shelf of books behind him that, as they wait for their ideal readers to discover them, will outlast him for a while,” he wrote in AARP The Magazine late last year. “The pleasures, for him, of book-making … remain, and retain creation’s giddy bliss. Among those diminishing neurons there lurks the irrational hope that the last book might be the best.”

He will be missed.

3 comments to Rabbit at Rest: John Updike, Dead at 76

  • He was one of my favorite authors. I particularly liked the Rabbit novels, but my favorite was “Couples.”

    I read “Self-Consciousness” for a college course on autobiographies, and between classes, I read “Bech: A Book”. I think that the professor liked that.

  • Joshua

    I liked the Rabbit novels, too. That’s all I read of him, besides some long-winded diatribes in the New York Review of Books.

  • John Updike’s passing is sad, but he left a ton of awesome work. “Immortality is nontransferrable” he said appropriately.