“The deaths of others carry us off bit by bit, until there will be nothing left; and this too will be, in a way, a mercy.”
The Vodo posted that quote on Facebook today. It’s pretty awesome and I wish I had found it first. Damn. It also makes me wish that I appreciated Updike’s writing more. I have to admit that I haven’t read a whole lot of his work. I read Witches of Eastwick on accident when I was in college, because I couldn’t seem to keep John Updike and John Irving straight.
I distinctly remember trying a few novels from the Rabbit series and those not clicking with me the same way A Prayer for Owen Meany clicked with me. I wasn’t the brightest 19-year-old coed on the face of the Earth.
However, I love his short story “A&P” with the kind of passion only 16-year-old girls can have. I remember reading it in 11th grade American Lit and feeling overjoyed. It was probably the first thing we read all year that I actually dug. Up to that point it had been all Hemingway and Hawthorne and The Crucible (sorry Arthur Miller, but the Goodie stuff drove me nuts).
It was a pleasure to read “A&P” because we got to just read it. We didn’t detect symbolism or dissect metaphor. There was no essay on comparing and contrasting. There was just a discussion about what we thought and why we enjoyed it (or didn’t) and what did he mean when he said, “I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter.”
Thank you for giving me that experience, Mr. Updike. May you rest in peace.