Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I Lose a Literary Hero: Goodbye to Mr. Updike

(Photo by Martha Updike)

Everything I needed to know in life, I learned from John Updike. I've got at least thirteen of his books, mostly dog-eared paperbacks, on my bookshelf. I probably read and lost or gave away that many more--and he wrote a whole lot more than that. I started reading him early and fast and I can say that in that special sense--the writer-to-reader-conversation sense--I've known him all of my adult life. In that sense, we were pals, John Updike and I.

He was bright beyond my capacity to understand intelligence, worldly in the strange, provincial way bookish people often are and great writers have to be, and yet able to communicate absolutely vital information about life to me, the farm boy from the Berkshire hills of New England. His writing was wise, profoundly titillating (literary sex? He got bad marks from the critics for that), and he had a wonderful grasp of how tragically funny people are when they descend into the murky wallow that is their humanity. Once I had read Updike, I understood my parents wisdom in fleeing suburbia when they did.

I saw him and heard him speak once. He was the speaker at my daughter's graduation from The University of Massachusetts back in, let's see, was it '89? It was hard to see him from way, way back where I was standing, on my tip-toes. All I could see was the shock of unruly gray hair as his stuttering delivery echoed over the heads of the milling, singing, happy mob. I wish I could say that I came away with a great pearl of Updike wisdom, but no, there was too much going on, too may distractions to follow the gist of his message.

From the endless reviews and essays and short stories to the novels about desperate housewives to the great ones about Rabbit Angstrom to the wonderful volume he called Selfconscousness, he covered it all--the true man of letters. How many are there of you left out there now, John?

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