January 31, 2009

John Updike grabs your grundle, alliterating all the while

By: David Donadio

The late John Updike was renowned as a renaissance man. Prolific to the last, he wrote dozens of novels, and all manner of cultural essays. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read any of the novels, but I have to say, it’s hard to square his appearance in person — a betweeded elder statesman of literature — with the infamous passages in some of his work. (Scroll down to the excerpt from The Widows of Eastwick.)

As Polansky puts it, at a certain point, how can critics interview guys like this and Philip Roth? I’d be like “get away from my kids!

I met Updike at age 6, and I assure you, he never laid a hand on me. Nor did he make any untoward overtures toward my sister when she and I ran into him again 20 years later at the Met.