Moments after his death, I received an announcement from my New York Times email alert. I had to read it twice. How could John Updike be dead? He was one of America’s most prominent and prolific writers, whose literary life encompassed so many genres. Although he was the author of 25 novels and over 12 short story collections, he had also written essays, poetry and memoir. He was the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, an accomplishment most writers only dream about. It has been said that writers are appreciated more dead than alive. I don’t think this is true with Updike. I know many people, writers and non-writers alike who have admired and will continue to admire his work.
The last time I heard about Updike was from my poet friend, a niece of Updike’s who said that he was ill back in September and they thought he had pneumonia, but it turned out to be lung cancer. After speaking with her yesterday, I hear that he had just gone into hospice on Monday and by Tuesday he was gone!
Updike was part of my mother’s generation which really brings the story close to home. We often take for granted the people who have been steady figures in our lives, but once in a while it’s good to stop and tell them you love them, because you just never know when will be the last time. I think I will go do that now!