Prolific Author John Updike Has Passed Away
by Brandon Lee Tenney
January 27, 2009
Today, novelist, poet, short story writer, art and literary critic, and prolific craftsman of the written word, John Updike died of lung cancer at the age of 76 at his home in Massachusetts. Updike was a compulsive author, releasing more than 50 books since the start of his literary career in the 1950s. He was the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes and two National Book Awards along with 1998's National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Updike's trademark stylistic writing quickly became, and continues, to be regarded as one of the most prominent voices in contemporary American literature.
With uncanny ability and skill, Updike was able to embody his generation's confusion and struggle over such issues as civil rights, women's rights, and the Vietnam War with poetic grace. Rabbit, Run exists as Updike's most famous and most acclaimed novel and is the first in his "Rabbit" series. In 1970 the story of Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom's attempt to escape the constraints of his quickly-disappearing life was adapted into a feature film by director Jack Smight, starring James Caan. From there, several of his short stories and novels have been adapted to both the big and small screen, including The Witches of Eastwick in 1987.
However, John Updike will be most remembered and regarded as a prominent voice of his generation, of a period in America's history, and of literature itself. From his novel Rabbit is Rich, Updike said this of death and of the dead: "The great thing about the dead, they make space." Let it be known, though, that Updike's space will forever be filled by his peerless and bountiful words for all time. Rest in peace, Mr. Updike.