What a shock to see this in today’s New York Times online. I sent this in response:
I have known John Updike for nearly thirty years. He was more than generous to me, a fellow Berks County Pa writer. Before her death nearly two decades ago, his mother was a close friend of mine. Linda Hoyer Updike was a writer in her own right, but ferociously proud and protective of her famous son. She adored that boy. I can think of no better way to honor a great story teller than by telling a telling story:
One afternoon many years ago I phoned Linda (at the Sandstone farmhouse) to tell her I’d just received word that a story of mine had been selected for inclusion in Best American Short Stories, my first. Of course I was ecstatic. My news fell into a pit of deep silence. Finally Linda responded. “Well, dear,” she said, “I’ve never heard of that book but I’m sure it’s very nice.”
Shortly thereafter Linda ended the conversation and I went about my business. Maybe ten minutes had passed when the phone rang. To my surprise it was Linda.
“You know that book you’re going to be in?” she said. “I just called John.” (i.e., John Updike, of the towering literary stature, of countless awards and prize story inclusions!) “Well guess what,” she said triumphantly. “He’s going to be in it, too.”
That famous Updike edge. John came by it naturally.
He will be sorely missed. His like will not be seen again.