John Updike

1932 (Shillington, Pa.) – 2009 (Danvers, Mass.)

The prolific Updike’s elegantly crafted novels and short stories, while acclaimed, have been criticised for their conventional protestant values and vistas. MacLeish (they corresponded briefly) famously rejected him twice from his Harvard writing class. Among friends, he admired Vonnegut’s imagination, was impressed by Cheever’s light-heartedness, but was more distant with his rival Roth. He dined with Voznesensky in Tolstoy’s mansion, and with Miller, introduced Yevtushenko in New York (Steinbeck also present). Updike, startled, found Mailer boxing around him in the street, spent an evening talking politics with Sinatra, and wondered why Thurber’s bladder didn’t burst.

John Updike knew…