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Location: Baltimore-DC Area

Author who writes for a living and lives for writing. // WOMB: a novel in utero (Merge Publishing 2017) // TRACKS: A Novel in Stories (Atticus Books 2011) // FLIGHTLESS GOOSE, a storybook for children (Writers Lair Books 2008) // www.EricDGoodman.com

Friday, January 28, 2011

Updike Down

Is it just me, or does it seem that we’re losing our Great American Writers?

Watching them fall like a heavy rain of letters and semicolons.

I woke with that thought yesterday. It ended up being the opening of the first and only poem I’ve written this year. Like much of my creative fiction and poetry, the idea comes to live in my head and roosts: I sit on a train and look at all of the passengers and imagine their lives; I imagine what it must be like for a child inside the womb; I watch a spider ride a wave down the drain of the shower and wish it hadn’t gone so soon.

This thought—about the great writers dying off—came yesterday when I realized it was the two-year anniversary of John Updike’s death.

Updike, like Rabbit, is at rest.

Sure, there are still hundreds, probably thousands, of Great American Writers. But somehow Updike is lodged in my mind as one of the giants, a powerhouse in league with Hemingway, Steinbeck and Faulkner; Henry James and Mark Twain. A writer of serious literature. There are masterful authors at work now, certainly. But when it comes to the representatives of literature, the old men in tweed jackets, sleeves rolled up and a single slice of paper rolled in the typewriter … have they all died off?

If not, will they soon? Who are the contenders in the collective conscious of the universal library? Roth? Irving? Franzen? Wolfe? McDermott?

(We’ve recently lost contenders Wallace, Mailer and Vonnegut.)

Now, with Updike down, who will carry on the tradition? Who will play the music of heavy keys and bleeding fingers, clanking out a soundtrack of antiquated print?

Any nominations?

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