the title of the short story in my 11th or 12th grade textbook that made me love John Updike.  I didn’t usually like short stories, was always a novel reader.  Why, I was the first girl in my class, 2nd grade I believe, to read a chapter book.  I remember great ritual about going to pick it out.  I do remember it was “The Diary of Betsy Ross”, and from their my love of nonfiction, biography and memoir bloomed.

Here’s a quote of his from “Assorted Prose”, 1965:

“The heart prefers to move against the grain of circumstance; perversity is the soul’s very life.”

From what I’ve read by Updike, I think this is an accurate depiction of him and his writing.    Just checked his bibliography at The John Updike Society website, and I read more of his work than I had remembered.  I am determined to find the story from my textbook in high school.  I doubt I’ll remember the name of it, even less likely I’ll remember the details of the story, but perhaps a sense of des ja vous will tell me I’ve read it before.

I think I mentioned I’m reading Hugging the Shore, which I didn’t think would hold my interest for long.  Perhaps because I had such a hard time with The Centaur recently.  I really prefer reading about people, rather than mythological characters.   I am enjoying this book immensely.  It is a collection of essays, interviews (satirical), and critiques of other writers.  I’m loving it, very thought provoking, and I love the biographical info. on other writers and some of the contexts of their works.

The interviews are very humorous.  I missed that gentle satire, slightly erotic way about his work. 

Teachers:  (of English, in the early ’80’s, ha ha) if you know the textbook or the story, please tell me.

I’m very happy with this huge tome.  It brings back lots of memories of happy reading, some from 30 years ago!

I might add I believe he really appreciated women.  Some may say he didn’t like women, but I think the opposite.  I think Updike loved woman, but they also puzzled him.  He knew them, though.

Here’s a link to a great Updike story I just read.  http://www.tiger-town.com/whatnot/updike/



Thinking & Reading


My titles are probably lacking.  Well, still reading Lauren Winner’s Girl Meets God.  Just realized I could have gotten it much cheaper at my favorite on-line bookstore, Better World Books.  Was so impulsive, ordered it from Amazon to get it quickly.  It has been very thought-provoking.  I thought I should read the Bible more.  The girl knows her Bible!  I even had a conversation with Tim today about embracing Christianity 100%, and what that would mean in my life.  I’ve been baptized, but I never felt comfortable in church.  I always felt guilty.  I’ve had a whole spiritual journey that would be a whole other blog post or 2, but suffice it to say I ended back up at a Baptist church.  The Baptists are supposed to be the free thinkers, believe it or not.  I love my church.  That’s where I met and married Tim.  But I find that no one in my church is my closest friend.  And some of my church friends are very judgemental.  I am also, of course.  I’m extremely judgemental of judgemental people, which makes me no better.  That’s probably why it bothers me.  I don’t always feel like my values are the same as other people in my church.  And so many poeple have been murdered in the name of God…

Back to embracing an orthodox Christian life–In ways, it would make it easier, because everything would be black and white.  I’d know exactly what to do and what not to do, and when.  Or would I?  The Bible says to call one’s Christian brother or sister out on their sin.  I’ve seen this done in a church and out, and it has always appeared a lot gentler, kinder, and more Christ-like when I saw it done in a secular setting.  I’ve even had my friends call me out (about something I’m doing that isn’t right for me and/or others) and done the same with some of my friends.  Never in a church setting, however.  And who chooses who the church calls out on their sin?    And why are we born with sin?  I just don’t get it.  I try to have humility, gratitude and hope.

Anyhow, I wanted a new Bible because I can’t find mine, and I thought I’d study more.  We went to an independent bookseller, because I really try to shop/buy local or handmade.  Doesn’t always happen, but I try.  It is called Carytown Books.  It was located in this trendy shopping area here in Richmond called Carytown.  I remember from when I lived nearby over 20 years ago.  It was around a long time.  They had a cat there, who just hung out with you & in the window.  They had to move because of rising rents, and have changed their business model a bit, but are doing well in an area called Bellevue now.  They now sell used & new books.  And I’ve found a great place to recycle the many books I’ve read.  I bought a bunch of used books.  I’ll tell you about them in a bit.  Oh, and there were 3 kitties there, all adorable.

First I’ll tell you about the books I checked out from the library last week.  Of course, I’ve mentioned the Hypochondria book.  I also checked out some larger picture books, one on the great smaller museums of Europe (which profiled Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, which I loved beyond all imagination.)  It appears to be an art history textbook.  It’s very similar to one I got when I took Art History I at VCU.  It’s about sculpture from the Renaissance to the present day.   The next picture book is really a sociological study (in photos) of America.  It’s called A Handful of Dust-Photographs of Disappearing America, by David Plowden.  It’s very sad.  It’s a lot of pictures of a dilapidated buildings in Smalltown, USA.  Haven’t studied it a lot.  The last one I got was by a favorite author of mine, Tom Wolfe.   Oddly, I’ve only read a few of his books.  My favorite is Bonfire of the Vanities, one of the funniest books I’ve read.  This one is  From Bauhaus To Our House.  It is his 1981 lament about modern American architecture.  I’ve read none of these in full, although I’ve looked fairly closely through the one about small European museums.  I plan to make a list of the ones I will visit after my ship comes in.  I’d much rather visit a lesser known museum than a huge one like the Louvre, swimming with all sorts of tourist humanity.  I think it’s a throw back to my old Kings Dominion (Amusement Park) days, but I hate to be where there are lots of tourists.

Is this post boring?  I’ll run quickly through the list of used books I got today.  I’m quite excited.  A Jack Olsen I haven’t read, a 1959 edition of Freud-His Dreams and Sex Theories.  Hadn’t thought much about Freud lately, and thought I’d give it a try.  Honestly, I was more attracted to its antiquity and the signature in the former owner’s fountain pen.  I also got a 1960 printing of a book called Great Poems, The Norton Reader, because I want to read some shorter stories by good authors, and I no longer have my copy, Hugging the Shore, Essays and Criticisms by the late, great John Updike.  My first attraction to him was through a short story.  I read several of his novels, but they were sometimes difficult.  I do feel like he captured the 60’s suburbanite era uncannily.  Anyhow, back to shorts by him.  I also got Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian and other essays on religion and related subjects.  A little oxymoronic, considering I was looking for a Bible in which I could scribble, cheap, since mine is around somewhere.

I’ll let you know how it all reads.

sabbatical this weekend and read another Jane Hamilton book called When Madeleine (sp?) was Young.  It was very good.  I didn’t enjoy it as much as Disobedience, but I still loved it and couldn’t put it down.  I visited the library and picked up 3 books.  This was one of them.  The other 2 are The Centaur by one of my favorite authors, John Updike.  I started that, and I’m finding it a little confusing.  I am missing something.  I guess he’s switching back from being a man to being a god- half horse half man or something.  Plus, he’s allowing himself to be mistreated by this guy in the man life.  I’m missing something, and I bet I’ve started this book before, probably 30 years ago, and put it down right away because of this bit of confusion.  I refuse to do that because I love Mr. Updike, RIP.  Next I may check out a book of poetry, not sure.  I also have a few John Irvings to catch up on.  I also picked up Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway.  I’ve wanted to read Woolf ever since I saw The Hours, which was wonderful. 

So I shall let you know if I can keep up w/ Updike’s metaphorical tome.  Might have to do a little research to understand what it is about more.  Will that help me enjoy it more or less?  If I’m not enjoying it by pg 75 (I’m on 34) then I may give up.  Or at least switch to Mrs. Dalloway and return later to The Centaur.  I get spoiled reading Jane Hamilton because she’s such a quick read, and her satire is more contemporary to me.

So, for now, I shall go back to reading.  I will say Elsie is attacking The Centaur at this very moment.  Is that a sign?  Yes, a sign that she wants my attention.  Ta Ta!