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John Updike dies at 76

Updike John Updike died at 76 this morning after a long bout with lung cancer, according to a representative of Knopf (part of Random House).

We think of him of a novelist first, of course, remembering the Rabbit series, two of which won Pulitzer Prizes (Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest); his ruthless (and now aging) witches of Eastwick; his embattled upper middle class couples waging domestic war in the nation's Northeast. But Updike, born in Reading, Pa., and living in Beverly Farms, Mass., at the time of his death, was also a poet, a short story writer and an art and literary critic. He also won a couple of National Book Awards.

An Associated Press obituary points out a funny thing: Though Updike never won the Nobel Prize, he did bestow one on his character Henry Bech.

He wrote things that made me want to tear out my hair sometimes. I can't tell you how many times I shouted aloud at his reviews in The New Yorker. And yet he'll be missed. Strange how that works.

Former book editor Margaria Fichtner interviewed Updike several years ago; click here to read her insights into his remarkable career.


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