Why is it that when important authors die you feel a great compunction to read their novels, maybe again, maybe the ones you passed over the first time? That's how I feel about John Updike. John Updike died this past week. He wrote with an extraordinarily rich prose style which sometimes was not in tune to the content of the novel. This caused a great amount of dissent between his readers and literary critics. One in which is still debated today. He wrote about the "American Protestant small-town middle class", of which he says,"It is the middles that extremes clash, where ambiguity restlessly rules". It would be a treat to reread his Rabbit books again: RABBIT, RUN; RABBIT REDUX, RABBIT IS RICH, RABBIT AT REST. Rabbit Angstrom is Updike's most human character, and probably his finest. COUPLES, published in 1968, was an instant bestseller and considered by some as his greatest work. The book covers the chaotic lives and sexual exploits of married couples in middle America. It's an excellent novel. But also the novel I really enjoyed was GERTRUDE & CLAUDIUS, published in 2000. It retells the story of Hamlet through the eyes of his mother and his uncle. It is a very entertaining, enjoyable novel. I suppose the one good thing about a great writer's death is the fact that they leave us with such memorable literature, and so much of themselves.
MY next post will be to honour Kurt Vonnegut, the iconic American author who passed away April 11, 2007.