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    • DellwoodBarker2 years ago

      Deep dive into John Updike who I have not read.

      Lockwood inserts tiny moments of humor along the way, as she is known to do, and guides us through literary controversy, dangerous writing and the many facets of a being who writes rather forbidden art alongside the angelic.

      Reminds me that I keep meaning to go pay the 3 bucks to check out the Forbidden 9 Paintings if D.H. Lawrence here in our town plaza La Fonda Hotel.

      Why is it so tempting to grade him on a curve? He is so attended by the shine of a high-school star, standing in a spotlight that insists on his loveability, that presents him as a great gold cup into which forgiveness must be poured. It extended even to me: as I underlined passages and wrote ‘what the … WHAT’ next to paragraphs, I felt him sad in the clouds on my shoulder, baffled, as if he had especially been hoping that I would get it. I aimed it at you, he tells me: you were that vague spot a little to the east of Kansas.

      1. Update (5/21/2021):

        The Centaur sounds interesting to me:

        The story is really Peter’s, of course. Not much happens – a lecture, a doctor’s appointment, a car forever breaking down, a pulled tooth, a basketball game, an obituary – but for all the freshness of his perceptions, he might be the first life form on earth, climbing crystalline out of the slime. Updike is a master of that moment when the elements of the physical world arrange themselves around you and suddenly: click! a Polaroid of happiness. Peter, more than any of his other characters, is a bursting scrapbook of these Polaroids. The life before him is a breath he is on the verge of taking: ‘I had fallen in love with the air, which I was able to seize in great thrilling condensations within me that I labelled the Future.’

        ‘Cars, stoplights, twinkling shadows that were people, all merged for me in a visual liquor.’ The shine on his surfaces made me think of that wonderful line in Pnin, about how to paint a black sedan: ‘One way to do it might be by making the scenery penetrate the automobile.’ Pnin is a distinct spiritual ancestor to The Centaur: the sensitive artistic child, the lumbering clownish teacher who would have carried us with him into irreparable heartbreak if the bowl the boy had given him had broken, the pretty glass bowl in its iridescent suds, after everyone had left the party. There is an abyss that opens in the chest of the reader who believes the bowl has cracked that is not entirely healed by the news that it is whole. Old age and frailty and death are in that chasm, and huge yawning pity for the end of ourselves. The Centaur, too, takes place in that blackness, that tenderness that Peter cherishes for his father, who allows the expensive leather gloves Peter gave him for Christmas to be stolen by a hitchhiker, who on the final page may die.

        These characters are inside cities, rooms, America – just as they are inside the body of God, which is a great skin of feeling without perimeter. As long as Updike’s protagonists keep to that perimeter, they are protected, and the immensity that so terrified him on the farm becomes their own. ‘As the sheets warmed, I enlarged to human size, and then, as the dissolution of drowsiness crept towards me, a sensation, both vivid and numb, of enormity entered my cells, and I seemed a giant who included in his fingernail all the galaxies that are.’ Galaxies, hometowns, a ‘patch of Pennsylvania in 1947’. Winding through The Centaur is a highway that will carry us into the future: the scenery of Updike’s childhood, immensely beautiful in his eyes, penetrates the automobile, drives the car.