Tuesday, January 27, 2009

RIP John Updike

New York Times obit. I'm sure there will be many more.

Surely all of the big name papers will be respectful in their analysis of Updike's oeuvre (I wonder how many of the obits were pre-written and published without additional flourish?), so for counterpoint, here's the late David Foster Wallace's scathing 1997 takedown of Updike, from his essay collection Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Now 76, John Updike likes writing too much to retire"

"Maybe each novel might be the last — but no, I’m not quite ready yet. There’s still the illusion that I’m still learning this curious trade, for which there’s very little coherent instruction."
The Buffalo News profiles John Updike, with a focus on the 2008 novel The Witches of Eastwick.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Katy and the Big Snow set to music

The Cape Ann Symphony's musical retelling of Gloucester children's author Virginia Lee Burton's Katy and the Big Snowcommemorates Burton's centennial year, and this winter's weather is certainly cooperating with the theme.

The Gloucester Lyceum presents a talk about the process of transforming the picture book into a musical piece on Thursday, January 15, at the Sawyer Free Library. The library also owns much of the original artwork for Katy and other books by Burton.

The performance itself—presented by local composer Robert J. Bradshaw—is scheduled for Saturday, January 24, at 2 pm, Gloucester's Fuller Auditorium. Details and tickets are available at the Cape Ann Symphony's site.

"North Shore residents black and white paved the way for integration"

As Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches, the Salem News pays tribute to local abolitionists, including William Lloyd Garrison and Charlotte Forten Grimk√©—both of whom made their mark on North Shore literature with their essays and reporting.

Essex County Chronicles: North Shore residents black and white paved the way for integration

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Gloucester's 'Polis' moving forward"

Michael David Rubin reflected on James Cook's recent lecture about Charles Olson's "The Maximus Poems" in yesterday's Gloucester Times.

Gloucester's 'Polis' moving forward
I learned little, Saturday, about Olson or "The Maximus Poems;" However, I saw and heard a community-within-a-community, of people who know and care about poetry; many of whom had met and valued Charles Olson, a large and large-hearted thinker who once dwelt among us. It showed me the diverse, multileveled character of our city, and why I love being a part of this place. Imagine — how wonderful is it? — to have fishermen, and poets, painters, playwrights, craftsmen, and history, architecture, woodlands, and the whole damn ocean: what a place!
The character Maximus embodied Olson's own fear about the encroachment of sameness in Gloucester. Rubin
articulates well his regret that Olson chose poetry—often difficult, hard to parse, sometimes easy to become dated or seem irrelevant—over direct prose... even though some surely disagree with this literary criticism.
My own wish is that he had kept to that strong talent, and committed his deep fears about loss of Gloucester's character — loss of our authentic culture — to the form of direct essays, to convey clearly his great heart and generous convictions. It would have provided for both his talent and his ethical concerns a well-delineated voice, easier to protect from critics' smothering, modernity's homogenizing, or, worse, being ignored by us.