The great American writer John Updike has died of lung cancer at age 76. I had mixed feelings about Updike. He was a tremendous lover of and user of the English language, and sometimes his insights and themes were profoundly life-affirming. At other times, he seemed to go off the deep end. He loved golf (great!) and my Red Sox (great!), and he had, at his best, a grace that allowed him to touch at times upon issues of faith in ways not wholly alien to traditionalists.
In one of Updike’s short stories, the narrator asked: “”What is the past, after all, but a vast sheet of darkness in which a few moments, pricked apparently at random, shine?”
For all his tendency sometimes to absolutely celebrate the amoral or even the immoral in modern life, Updike’s best writings, his best few moments — picked not at random, but produced deliberately and with great skill — shone indeed. R.I.P