american giants


“pardon the egg salad stains, but i’m in love…”

i’ve just completed john updike’s collection of short stories my father’s tears. a short story is the perfect antidote to a long commute that has minimal transfers. for the past month of june, i’ve managed to squeeze in entire subway-ride-sized bites of updike’s americana. and what a sad, but lovely and intensely intimate america it was.

a few years ago i discovered philip roth whose writing, from my first encounter, was something to be devoured. philip roth is a deeply engaged author. he is thinly controlled emotion coupled with a sincere talent for storytelling. american pastoral still leaves me mildly stunned. he’s very good.

i adore philip roth with his expansive story arcs covering broad swaths of american life and his pointed critique of the dream. he is intricacy without intimacy, an emboldened nuance that is only subtle for the unprepared. but updike is equally and differently delicious. updike is certainly the finer handler of language. he doesn’t push so much as examines, and even dwells, on the details that make life so lucid and so simultaneously devastating.

what roth is to new jersey, so updike seems to be to pennsylvania.

i’ve spent a lot of time in Newark…next stop Alton, PA.



quote marginalia by billy collins

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