Archive for January, 2009

John Updike

Posted in Poetry, Writers with tags , on January 28, 2009 by mclac

timeupdikeNow It’s Our Turn To Bid Adieu

No longer the baseball fan I was in the fifties and sixes, it was baseball that first led to my awareness of John Updike. In his now classic essay, “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu,” Updike wrote of Ted William’s home run in his last career at-bat, which appeared in The New Yorker magazine, October 22, 1960. Sports fan or not, this essay is a work of literary art.

“Like a feather caught in a vortex, Williams ran around the square of bases at the center of our beseeching screaming. He ran as he always ran out home runs — hurriedly, unsmiling, head down, as if our praise were a storm of rain to get out of. He didn’t tip his cap. Though we thumped, wept, and chanted ”We want Ted” for minutes after he hid in the dugout, he did not come back. Our noise for some seconds passed beyond excitement into a kind of immense open anguish, a wailing, a cry to be saved. But immortality is nontransferable. The papers said that the other players, and even the umpires on the field, begged him to come out and acknowledge us in some way, but he refused. Gods do not answer letters.”

As a middle-class guy from middle America looking for the middle ground, one of my favorite quotes is Updike’s, “I like middles; It is in middles that extremes clash, where ambiguity restlessly rules,” which resonates with my own philosophy of life. Although I read a lot, I’ve never been much of a novel reader, therefore limiting my observations on this great American writer.

What are your observations?