The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A contrarian view

Or, ok, just plain contrary. John Updike died this week, and we're going to see page after page of encomia. Fine, the man's dead -- if you liked his work, ok, but in the immortal tradition of this medium, I just can't hold off on being the voice of opposition.

For what it's worth, I am not a member of the Updike fan club, and I'm baffled by the repeated assertions that he was some sort of great American novelist. His prose was like fingernails on a blackboard, his sole resort seemed to be alliteration, and his characters were the most unlovable, unremarkable crew of non-entities in recent literature. The idea that there is something tragic (let alone noble) in the lives of suburban malcontents did not resonate with me. Still doesn't. Sorry.

My mother once said that you shouldn't read Dickens until you're forty. She was right about that, and I would add the advice that you should probably hold off on Updike for a few more years past that age -- like another hundred or so.

Go ahead, ask me about Tom Wolfe.

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