For Updike’s Birthday

March 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

I was sitting in a parking lot in Ipswich, Massachusetts—just a few blocks from the house at 26 East Street where Updike lived when he began Rabbit, Run—late for work because I just had to get to the ending of Rabbit at Rest because I knew what was going to happen.

It was hot in the car.

From his expression and the pitch of his voice, the boy is shouting into a fierce wind blowing from his father’s direction. “Don’t die, Dad, don’t!” he cries, then sits back with that question still on his face, and his dark wet eyes shining like stars of a sort. Harry shouldn’t leave the question dangling like that, the boy depends on him.

“Well, Nelson,” he says, “all I can tell you is, it isn’t so bad.” Rabbit thinks he should maybe say more, the kid looks wildly expectant, but enough. Maybe. Enough.

And then I went to work, and I don’t think I got much done that morning.

John Updike would have turned 81 today.

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