Dear John

Whacked flat by the bug going around so have not done any writing this weekend or much of anything else except read, watch old movies, and drink tea. Though the reading has reminded me I’ve been too stuck on plot again at the expense of language.

The day before he died, I picked up John Updike’s The Widows of Eastwick. Despite the mixed reviews, the topic of aging in America sounded interesting to me and I thought it would be fun to catch up with the witches. 

Next day, when I saw the obits, I was saddened. I’ve been a fan since Couples, read all the Rabbit and Beck books and of course, that wickedly funny The Witches of Eastwick. For years I bought the New Yorker just for Updike’s reviews. 

I’m only a few chapters in, and maybe it’s this cold or flu or whatever it is, but I feel better just sinking into luscious words and other worlds. And that’s what strikes me most as I read Updike–his ability with language to transport. The way he plays with the lexicon casts its own spell. I was hooked from the first sentence:

“Those of us acquainted with their sordid and scandalous story were not surprised to hear, by way of rumors from the various localities where the sorceresses had settled after fleeing our pleasant town of Eastwick, Rhode Island, that the husbands whom the three Godforsaken women had by their dark arts concocted for themselves did not prove durable.”

Such delicious brew is better than chicken soup for whatever ails me .


  1. “Witches” is a wonderful book, Cindy! I’ve read it twice, and also enjoyed the (different but good) film version. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I am love with “magical realism” — and find that Updike, along with Alice Hoffman, is a master. What great reading as you prep for your Aunt Linda novel … Feel better!


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