There have been so few writers who have affected me artistically like John Updike, who died yesterday of lung cancer; he was amongst the last living modernist, and his themes were subjects few other writers could write so honestly.
I was first introduced him as a senior in college, still too immature to truly understand half of the thematic elements in his novels, but greatly moved by the humanity of his characters; my senior thesis covered two of his greatest works In the Beauty of Lilies and Rabbit, Run. I remember thinking upon completed In the Beauty of Lilies "This is the way a novel is supposed to be written--not full of post-modern nonsense that somehow passes for art." It is, in my opinion, one of the best epic sagas I've ever read.
I think the greatest thing about him was he was a literary Renascence man--he wrote novels, essays, comics, stories--he covered more literary medians then any other writer I have seen, and he made it look so easy. He even was a Simpson character, which is a honor more commendable then the Nobel he never got.
A writers death always seems out of the blue, and to me there is tragedy here because we give so little thought to authors while they are alive; they are remember like legends in death--the bodies of their work read for hundreds of years; and yet it is actors and musicians who we treat as mortals in life--but they are quickly forgotten in death.
Thanks for the massive body of work you have left behind, John Updike...I will read you for years to come.