OBITUARY: John Updike

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), January 30, 2009 | Go to article overview

OBITUARY: John Updike


SOME, including the urbane fellow himself, felt that his talents were not fully appreciated on the afternoon paper, which gloried in the name of the Reading Eagle, where he worked as a copyboy - running messages between newsroom, composing room and courthouse; serving editors coffee and breakfast, and sometimes assigned mindnumbing tasks of compiling theatre and radio timetables.

But some of his colleagues were included in a satirical piece, which John Updike submitted to his editors, during the three summers he spent at the Eagle on holiday from Harvard University.

A reporter from those days, the seasoned John A Kunkleman was not mentioned, perhaps because he was difficult to spot amid the sacks of smoke from the cigars he vanquished at the rate of 15 a day.

"Mysteriously," Kunkleman noted, the article had disappeared, though there are rumoured to be Updike features in the part of the Eagle building, known affectionately as "the morgue".

Critics name Updike among the great American, 20th-century novelists. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, moving to nearby Shillington, where his father was a science teacher.

They then settled in Plowville - all three towns would be lightly disguised in his stories.

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