John Updike in 2006, good-naturedly awaiting his turn on-air as 90.9.’s resident photographer (who doubles as the head of the new media department) fired away. This is the station’s “event room,” where employees brown-bag it and where they are herded during “all-station” meetings. With the exception of the soon-to-be obstructed view of the Hub, it possesses all the distinct charm of your standard-issue church function room. The banks of laptops and headphones tell us that this is fundraising season; this table will eventually be crowded with volunteers suffering through garbled cell phone transmissions or fast talkers. You’d think we could have cleared a space for him. Sheesh. And I decidedly hope that was not the free house brew he was drinking.
I recall at least two occasions on which the literary giant passed through these warrens. When the above photo was snapped, he was here to talk with Tom Ashbrook about “Still Looking: Essays on American Art.” The other was a 2003 appearance on the late, great The Connection, which coincided with the release of a new collection of his early work. During that time I was the unwitting recipient of a colleague’s manic obsession. He’d corner me in my cubicle, flipping through “The Centaur,” reading passages aloud. The same person even asked Updike to let us record him reading some of his poetry, which, being the consummate gentleman, he of course consented to do. Sadly, that audio fell victim to server Spring cleaning.
Earlier this week On Point remembered the man, his piercing wit and effervescent, glittering prose. Listen here.
What’s your favorite Updike novel, story or poem?
I must confess, I have yet to read “The Centaur.”