John Updike talks about Terrorist. The son of an Irish-American mother and an Egyptian father who disappeared when he was three, Ahmad turned to Islam at the age of eleven. In New Jersey, he feels his faith threatened.
When he finds employment with recently immigrated Lebanese, the threads of a plot gather around him, with reverberations that rouse the Deptartment of Homeland Security.
Updike's highly acclaimed novels include Rabbit, Run and Rabbit Redux.
He has won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.
Novelist, short story writer and poet, John Updike is one of America's premier men of letters. As a boy growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania, he suffered from psoriasis and a stammer, ailments that set him apart from his peers. He found solace in writing, and won a scholarship to Harvard, where he edited the Lampoon humor magazine. He sold his first poem and short story to The New Yorker shortly after graduation.
He won early fame with his novel Rabbit, Run (1960), and Pulitzer Prizes for two of its sequels, Rabbit is Rich (1981) and Rabbit at Rest (1990), chronicling the life of a middle class American through the social upheavals of the 1960s and beyond. Rabbit, Run and Couples (1968) both stirred controversy with their forthright depiction of America's changing sexual mores, and established his reputation as a peerless observer of the human complexity behind the facade of ostensibly conventional lives. His fiction, poetry and essays also show a persistent interest in moral and philosophical questions, informed by a lifelong interest in Christian theology.
John Updike is one of very few Americans to be honored with both the National Medal of Art and the National Medal for the Humanities. As of this writing, he has published more than 60 books. The Early Stories, 1953-1975, published in 2004, collects the short fiction from the first two decades of his career. As large a volume as it is, it represents only a small part of his vast contribution to American literature.
Thanks for your post, just read today, Permalink. I have not written a book about John Updike but I have written several others. If you google: "RonPrice books" you will get a taste of my writings.(or Scribd)-Ron
By the time I was nearly 55 and ready to retire from teaching I had begun to taste a "pervasive spiritual strangulation," a disappointment, a fatigue of the heart, a tedium vitae, an "existential exhaustion." This was my experience in the 1990s beginning in my late forties and early fifties. It was part of Shakespeare's experience as conveyed in his sonnets. Indeed the experience has been given many lables: mid-life crisis is but one.
What every human being does in their inmost thoughts and responses, the play of feeling on things seen and felt, this is what we find in Shakespeare's sonnets. This is what I try to portray, too, in both my narrative and my poetry. It was not all gloom and doom, though. There was, as well, as John Updike observed, a new fun in life, "an over-50 flavour." This will become evident to readers as they progress through my books, should they desire. Perhaps all I had was what Jed Diamond called, in his two books on the subject, a male menopause, which he regarded as the major male change of life in his whole life. There clearly was an angst, but there also was an inner peace, a dichotomy, a contradiction in terms, perhaps consistent with my bi-polar disorder.
In 1998 I began a series of testosterone injections, not for my libido but for a fatigue which was making me go to sleep every afternoon. By late 1999, and my early retirement these injections were discontinued. The fatigue and angst gradually dissipated as the new milennium opened.
However serendipitous my memoirs may be, however much I improvise as I tell my story, as I move the events around in what seems like a loose, easy-going and fortuitous fashion, my aim is not that of those two famous American novelists of this period: Kurt Vonnegut Jr and John Updike. The former's novel Timequake is written with irony, humor and sarcasm to wake people from their stupor and apathy and to warn them of what awaits if they do not try to radically transform their society.
Likewise, John Updike's Toward the End of Time presents readers with a future that is so grim and characters that are so repulsive that the very hideous images force them to either embrace his work masochistically or reject it outright and work towards preventing the dystopia he describes. Both writers try to jolt their readers, shock them.
My approach is different again and I encourage readers at this site to browse around my internet postings which are, after half a dozen years,voluminous.-Ron Price, George Town.
I offer this piece as a pre-terrorist Updike perspective, having lived with Updike for more than 40 years before 'terrorist' came out. This will give readers here a bit of background on Updike. Apologies for the personal perspective but, like everyone else, we come to books from our life's beliefs and values.
John Updike's Rabbit tetralogy chronicles reflectively the decades since I first had contact with the Baha'i Faith back in 1953. With the help of a Guggenheim Fellowship Updike was working on the first of these four books, Rabbit, Run, when I became a Baha'i in October 1959. The book was published a few months later in 1960 and is the story of a young man, one Harry â€˜Rabbit' Angstrom, from a small town in the USA. The book concerns Harry's attempts to escape the constraints of life. In my teens I, too, lived in a small town and, although I could see the attractiveness of escaping from social constraints, I also left the need for a set of limits. I was only too well aware of just how easily I could go beyond the appropriate limits. By the late fifties I could see what happened to those who did escape from life's, from society's, constraints. I knew from personal experience by my early teens, by 1957, what it was like to be caught stealing, breaking and entering, going too far sexually, misbehaving around the family home, at school or with my play-mates and pushing the envelope of life. Had I read Updike's book, Rabbit, Run I think I would have had my need, my desire, for limits reinforced. The Baha'i Faith provided that framework, those limits, at a critical stage in my life, my mid-teens. This Faith also provided that sense of the sacredness of life which is at the centre of Updike's work.
When I was preparing to leave North America for Australia in 1970/1 people were watching the movie Rabbit, Run. It had opened just as I began planning to leave Canada in 1970. Rabbit Redux, Updike's sequel to Rabbit, Run came out four months after I arrived in Sydney for what became my life in Australia. Harry Angstrom took to the road in 1971 in Rabbit Redux as I took to a different road in the southern hemisphere. Updike's final two Rabbit books took Harry Angstrom into the 1990s and his rather bleak retirement and old age. The following prose-poem compares and contrasts my life with Harry's. â€“Ron Price with thanks to â€œArticles on John Updike's Works,â€ in The New York Times on the Web.
You didn't think much about politics
back then in the â€˜50s, did you John?
Private destiny was your concern,
then and now--not that partisan game.
And your then theories about how
to write are now forgotten, eh John?
When Rabbit is Rich was set in '79,
I was living in Tasmania fighting
another bi-polar episode; Harry was
fighting his many losses in life
or was it life's pleasures--sex, booze,
marital infidelity and having fun?
Then Harry got old--at just 55--
in 1990 in Rabbit At Rest, a decade
before I headed into quieter pastures
where death and age awaited---
inevitably long down life's road,
but not with fear, emptiness
and Harry's downward slide
with its world inhabited by
ghosts and demons of his past.
June 24th 2006
Ron Price is a retired teacher, aged 61. He taught for 30 years in primary, secondary and post-secondary schools. He lives with his wife Chris in Tasmania. Their 3 children are now aged: 39, 34 and 27. He has 3 books published on the WWW. They are free.
It's interesting to see the the portrayal of "terrorist" from the perspective of a "terrorist," although delivered from the hand of an anglo westerner. I am unfamiliar with the famous Rabbit books, however, Updike appears to inject a humanity into the Ahmad character derived from the reading. While the use of the "terrorist" as a symbol since 9/11 may seem as exploitative and as a jump on the band wagon move, Updike appears to attempt to reveal the face behind the name "terrorist" and works at creating an understanding among cultures in times of tension.