Friday, November 26, 2010

Champions ...

... John Updike, and the Curious Business of Sustaining Literary Reputations. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

1 comment:

  1. First, something from your cited / linked article:

    Toward the end of his life, John Updike was fond of musing about how little the world would note his passing. He suspected that “a shrug and tearless eyes / will greet my overdue demise; / The wide response will be, I know, / ‘I thought he died a while ago.’”

    The John Updike Society, which held its first conference last month, is dedicated to proving the author wrong. The event, held near Updike’s hometown of Shillington, Pennsylvania, started the society’s work of sustaining and growing a literary reputation. The weekend included academic readings, panels of friends and family, and tours of the author’s two boyhood homes and the environs of Shillington and Reading where much of his fiction was set. The mission of the Society — along with creating opportunities to enjoy the fellowship of Updike devotees – is “awakening and sustaining reader interest in the literature and life of John Updike.”

    No detail was too small for discussion. Attendees wanted to know if Updike did the dishes at home, whether he liked Sinatra, if he was handy around the house. On bus tours, attendees pondered the department store where his mother worked, the restaurant where he’d lunched as teenager, the old movie theater featured in his non-fiction.

    Much of the attendees’ interest, understandably, focused on discovering if their idol was indeed the man they knew.

    Now, an observation: There is something very weird and wrong about literary fans (i.e., fanatics) who conflate the author with the art so foolishly that they worry about dishwashing, department stores, and movie theaters. I cannot imagine any one who is sensible about literature being involved in such a bizarre worshipful ritual as the one described in the article. Perhaps, though, I am being too cynical and intolerant of quirkiness in others.