john updike, 1932-2009

John Updike has died.


Seven Stanzas at Easter


Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that–pierced–died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

–John Updike

sad news

I just learned that long-time Norton editor, literary icon, and friend Carol Houck Smith has passed away in New York. I'll post an obit as soon as I see one online. Cindy and I lookd forward to our week in Taos every summer and our chance to dine and talk with Carol about books and writers. What a brilliant mind, what a generous person, what a great conversationalist. And she loved buyng turquoise and silver jewelry! Here's an interview with Carol and joan Silber in the Washigton Post. (thanks to Beth in Roanoke)

studs terkel

One of my heroes, author, oral historian, heart of Chicago, conversationalist, and old lefty Studs Terkel has died at ninety-six. Our great loss. Here's a list of Studs' books.  I'd start with Hard Times and Working. (thanks to Tom in Fort Myers)

tony hillerman

Writer Tony Hillerman has died at 83.  Gave one of the finest keynote addresses I've ever heard at the Taos Summer Writers Conference a couple of years ago. He had notes written in a little memo pad and pulled pieces of paper out of his pockets to consult.  And every bit of advice was solid and eye-opening. 

hayden carruth, 1921- 2008

Hayden Carruth began writing when he was 6, but acclaim came late in his career. His poems captured his hard work, mental illness and love of jazz.

Hayden Carruth has died at his home in Vermont.  (thanks to Joe in Sunrise)


Scrambled Eggs And Whiskey
  Scrambled eggs and whiskey
in the false-dawn light. Chicago,
a sweet town, bleak, God knows,
but sweet. Sometimes. And
weren't we fine tonight?
When Hank set up that limping
treble roll behind me
my horn just growled and I
thought my heart would burst.
And Brad M. pressing with the
soft stick and Joe-Anne
singing low. Here we are now
in the White Tower, leaning
on one another, too tired
to go home. But don't say a word,
don't tell a soul, they wouldn't
understand, they couldn't, never
in a million years, how fine,
how magnificent we were
in that old club tonight.