John Updike writes 30

Posted: January 28, 2009 in All and Sundry, Musings


Where was I when news of John Updike’s death got out? Perhaps I was sleeping and dreaming of ice castles in the air or whirling dervishes in the boondocks of Mintal. Perhaps I was in the shower squeezing huge globs of conditioner on my hair in a desperate effort to tame it smooth. Perhaps I was riding the habal-habal on my way to the University watching the world pass by–naked kids playing with the broken water pipes by the street, a man taking a leak, his buttocks brown as freshly baked doughnuts, the clouds crowding the blue sky, my breath racing withh the wind. Or perhaps I was somewhere, anywhere near a computer, a classroom, a friend, a lover, a student, an answer. Perhaps, I was at Ate Lings taking snapshots of familiar faces I’d like to memorialize, even write about in the future. Pictures of dogs, pigs, and slats of bamboo, and gaping holes that frame some streak of light from somewhere, some source, some inspiration inspired by another freak of nature, another mistake made beautiful. Perhaps I was on my way home lugging my camera and backpack filled with my heavy laptop and battery charger and make-up and wallet and desires that burden me everyday like the pebbles I used to collect in the pockets of my highschool uniform. Perhaps then I was just staring at the computer screen looking at my bounty–a collection of pictures taken the entire day, memories that may be sometimes just that, memories, ordinary, mundane moments not fit for recollections like the pebbles in my uniform.

Ordinary. The way some common news can be discovered in a shoutout in Facebook, that’s how I discovered John Updike’s death. Ordinary. Same way back in elementary school, my sister Jaye and I happened to stumble on the Rabbit Series in one of the shelves of the library, fell in love with the first book and Rabbit, and managed to hide the others so that no one could find them. That was our secret game. Perhaps then all these wonderful things–words that beg to be read are always magnificently memorable when one stumbles on them more than when they are sought after. Just like how my best friend Kiday, during one of our drinking sessions at City Burger, nonchalantly handed me a copy of Pigeon Feathers and said “you must read this.” (Of course that wasn’t verbatim.) Or when after reading Packed Dirt, a Dying Cat… (that long story with a long title), I accidentally decided to be a writer of stories. Foolishly throwing all cares to the wind, I bought a copy of A&P, read it, and decided I wanted to write stories not knowing I can not even complete a book, or write a decent cult favorite of a story or be some bad-ass Rockstar of a writer having minions to follow me around… or just some crazy mad writer flaky enough like Dharma who would really kill for that elusive word…And if ever I write 30, it must have been a long blog entry I’m trying to finish. Maybe just maybe, knowing that John has written 30, I might stumble upon Rabbit in the middle of this crossroad and I’ll be reminded how life should never be just about constraints. The randomness of it all–me waxing poetic over life, John Updike dying at 76 because of lung cancer, me seemingly grieving over his death when everything just goes back to me writing this entry about John Updike’s death but not quiet about it. Really.

Somewhere in the middle of the day they say a teacher-fictionist recited a poem for Updike, and where was I on these moments?

  1. coffee says:

    the loss of John Updike makes me wonder if the literary world is being replenished at the same rate that it’s losing such great writers

  2. reefer says:

    “change of guard,” someone says. i agree that it is inevitable but at the same time the question is: “is the new guard better than the old one?”

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