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Literary Figures Judith Jones '45, Jonathan Lethem '86 Remember John Updike

Feb 05, 2009

Judith Jones '45, longtime editor and friend of the late John Updike, appeared on Charlie Rose recently to discuss the life and work of the celebrated writer, who passed away on January 29 at the age of 76.

Jones, an Alfred A. Knopf editor for more than 50 years, joined Sam Tanenhaus, editor of The New York Times Book Review, and New Yorker editor David Remnick on the hour-long program dedicated to Updike.  

"You couldn't find a voice that more clearly expressed the whole American experience," Jones said. "If you wanted to know what America was like, John Updike's books would tell you more effectively than almost anything."

Jones was also quoted at length in USA Today's obituary of Updike, and in a recent article in The New York Observer.

Author Jonathan Lethem '86 also shared his thoughts on Updike—three thoughts, to be exact—on The New Yorker's website. 

Lethem recalls bringing a pocket edition of Updike's Rabbit is Rich to a horse-racing track as a boy, "reading in great absorbed stretches between races while my friend Eliot and his uncle Morton laid bets. Rather than making the scene around me disappear, the book etched it more deeply into reality, Updike's feel for tangible life seeming to call up supersensory awareness, eyes in the back of my head, the visionary babble of life and art conversing and converging."