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STANDING amid the tan, excited post-Christmas crowd at the Southwest Florida Regional Airport, Rabbit Angstrom has a funny sudden feeling that what he has come

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John Updike, American Shaman

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STANDING amid the tan, excited post-Christmas crowd at the Southwest Florida Regional Airport, Rabbit Angstrom has a funny sudden feeling that what he has come to meet, what's floating in unseen about to land, is not his son Nelson and daughter-in-law Pru and their two children but something more ominous and intimately his: his own death, shaped vaguely like an airplane. --Rabbit at Rest

Having missed Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, and Ray Charles the last time each of them rolled through town, I'm grateful I took the chance to go see Updike when he was at Benaroya in November, despite the dipshits he was surrounded by.

I'm spending the evening re-reading certain favorite bits of Updike (the scene in Rabbit is Rich where Nelson goes to a party is completely fucking insane) and having a few too-sweet drinks of the kind Harry Angstrom and his crowd used to down back in Brewer.

To me he will always be the writer of vision. Reading him, I could always see so much more than I expected. It's an exalted vision, animated by the gratitude of the believer for the gifts of light and life, and one I've tried to internalize and take with me. While the Beats got all the glamour, Updike was the authentic raving shaman of American life, drunk on the sensations of life in this country, and able to describe them with a superhuman virtuosity.

There are probably all kinds of great tributes being written right now, but I'd like to recommend this hilarious and big-hearted review James Wolcott wrote of The Widows of Eastwick.

 
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