>I feel like something of an idiot because I haven’t read John Updike, at least his novels, and now he’s dead. How can one fancy oneself a reader, let alone a writer, and not be familiar with one of the titans of American literature? I can only shrug. For a large part of my life I sneered at the “literary” writers. They seemed to me to be of the same ilk as jazz and classical music fans; people who were different from me, and I wanted no part of them. You know, the New Yorker crowd. People who refer to the music I like as noise, or the books I grew up loving as trash.
Times change. Those highbrow attitudes still piss me off, but I find value in a lot of the stuff that those nose-in-the-airs often appreciate (or pretend to, at least). Christ, these days I even read the New Yorker! I still don’t have time for jazz, but I love classical music (always have, actually). And after hearing this piece on NPR back in October, and then again when it was replayed on the Sirius radio NPR station I was listening to over the last trip I was on, I was determined to add some of Updike’s work to my reading queue. His thoughts on travel were particularly meaningful to me, so it came as something of a shock to learn of his death.