Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rabbit R.I.P.

He was truly a man of letters. He won two Pulitzers. From essays on baseball to short stories in The New Yorker, he continued to publish long past the point where he ever needed the money---or the recognition. He had been my favorite writer since undergraduate school. John Updike, of Rabbit Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest notoriety, is dead...and I feel saddened today by the loss.

For my 52nd birthday I received the above mentioned Rabbit Angstrom tetralogy in a single bound 1500 page hardback. I've been reading (re-reading actually) a little bit at a time since last August. I pick up the book now and notice I'm on page 1314, almost done with the final novel. It's the only American publication in its genre written entirely in the present tense. It unfolds like a screenplay in real time; four screenplays written over four decades--one book every ten years, streaming through the base and mosaic mind of Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom, protagonist/antagonist/hero/anti-hero flawed post World War Two modern Man.

I have a theory. When great thinkers pass on, exceptional humanitarians die, or virtuoso guitarists crash and burn, their extinguished super-talent gets somehow spread among the living and everyone left behind gets just a tiny bit better. And this is the only thought that keeps me from being any sadder right now. In the present tense, today, like it's supposed to be.

I suppose now he knows...

Geno Petro

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