When a figure of this stature passes, it may seem presumptuous for his mere readers to say that they are saddened by the news. But I suppose it would be worse to say nothing, and this is sad news indeed. That fact that most startled me in the first death notices is that he was "only" 76 -- startling to me because he has been a central cultural figure during virtually all of my conscious life, which covers a pretty long time. My entire freshman class in college was made to "read and discuss" Updike's early book The Centaur. Then, it seemed like part of the American canon. Now I realize that he'd written it only a few years earlier, when he was barely 30.

I'm sure everyone else will mention this, but his conversation about Barack Obama (with Sam Tanenhaus of the NYTBR) only three months ago, here [bad link fixed], is a marvelous brief moment. And some of his Atlantic oeuvre is here. It's customary to say that someone will be missed. In Updike's case it's more important that he will be remembered.

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