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Those quicksilver moments that I remembered for many years are what kept drawing me to Updike. I have no idea which short story contains this scene: parents are divorcing and, with the help of their children, are cleaning out the family home. Updike likened the tossing of board games with missing pieces to their family life. I don’t even know if the next memory is a poem (I think it is) or a short story: a museum-goer happens upon a small classical statue in a display case. He feels an attachment and thinks of it as his own private possession. Since I read that, I often feel that way in museums.
Years ago, Updike spoke and read at UWM. He read a poem I was not familiar with so I wrote and asked him for a citation. In return mail, I received one of his famous blue-edged postcards with a charming note and the information I needed. I didn’t know how famous those postcards were until I began reading the obituaries.
I liked Updike’s short stories and poetry more than his novels. Although, one can’t argue with two Pulitzers: Rabbit is Rich (1981) and Rabbit at Rest (1990). Still, I will always miss the joy I felt when the New Yorker published a new Updike story.