John Updike’s take on travel: A mini tribute and ode to NYC

John Updike, as well as being one of America’s beloved, if not a bit controversial, novelists, was a traveler and a poet. Brenda’s post yesterday was a fitting tribute, but here’s a bit more. In his collection of poems, Americana, published in 2001, Updike combines the traveler’s and the writer’s eye.

The poem “Americana,” subtitled “Poem Begun on Thursday, Oct. 14, 1993, at O’Hare Airport, Terminal 3, around Six O’Clock P.M.,” is an airport musings piece. In this one he uses the airport as a place to let his mind and words ponder life. In another, he delves into the subject of an overhead luggage rack. (To read “Americana,” click on this link and scroll down.)

In other poems, Updike tackles overseas travel and descriptions of cities. About New York City, he wrote the lines “whose sheets of windows rise like dusty thunder” in reference to the skyscrapers.

New York City, according to Leon Neyfakh who wrote an article about Updike in the New York Observer, was one of Updike’s favorites.

Along with people watching and taking in the city’s sense of adventure, Updike enjoyed heading to art museums, in particular. Neyfakh was planning on taking Updike to the Miró exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art on his next visit to the city.

If you want to see New York through Updike’s eyes, sit at a restaurant table where you can look out the window and people watch. Then head to the Museum of Modern Art to see the Miró exhibit. Along the way, jot down notes on your observations. Perhaps you’ll uncover a poem in there.

For a review of Americana, click here. For Updike’s review of the Museum of Modern Art before it reopened after being remodeled, click here.

Chalky Lives did the photo montage of the Chrysler Building, an image that seems to suit Updike’s words. The second photo, titled “Jump” was taken in NYC”s theater district by Joshua Davis. It also seems poem worthy.

In today’s New York Times, Updike’s poem, “Requiem” was published in the Opinion page. It’s part of his collection “Endpoint and Other Poems” that is soon to be published.

John Updike: One of America’s most beloved authors dies of cancer

One of the most revered American writers passed on yesterday from a long battle with lung cancer.

I have long been a fan of John Updike, as he is truly a master of the written word and wrote evocative complex stories about America that nearly every willing reader could enjoy. His Rabbit series and short stories like “A & P” spoke to a whole generation of people from small town, middle America. He also selected the Best American Short Stories of the Century.

Updike has been an inspiration to both writers and readers alike, as he was one of the few writers in America who could cross genres between novel, short story, poem, and essay seamlessly and effortlessly, but also touch the heartstrings of readers by bringing to life even the most mundane characters. His final novel, Terrorist, published in 2006, was an opus that set in motion his views of the September 11 attacks.

The Hay Festival: Combining Vacations and Good Books Since 1988

The New York Times is featuring an article on The Hay Festival which, frankly, looks like a book-lover’s dream.  The festival, which the article describes as “Sundance for Bibliophiles,” is held every year in a small village in Wales called Hay-on-Wye.  Apparently, even former President Bill Clinton is a fan, calling it “Woodstock for the Mind” when he participated several years ago.

The festival takes place for 10 days at the end of May, and this year the 80,000+ visitors may see the likes of Dave Eggers, Kazuo Ishiguro, Don DeLillo, John Updike, Clive James, Julian Barnes, Ali Smith, Patrick McGrath, Jeannette Winterson, Doris Lessing and Jaqueline Wilson, all of whom have appeared recently.

Really interesting read.  I’m thinking next year, when my husband and I plan our annual trip to the UK to visit his family, we’re going to have to figure out a way to pass through this neck of the woods.