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					                                                                                             decades later, I read The Witches of Eastwick and Updike’s
                                                                                             scene-setting riff on the “subtle change” that occurs when
                                                                                             you enter Rhode Island, with its “cheerful dishevelment [and]
                                 Wind                                                        contempt for appearances,” its “vacant hinterlands hastily
                                                                                             traversed by straight black roads,” and “lunar stretches…
                                 If God has any voice it is the wind.                        [with] only an abandoned roadside stand offering the ghosts
                                                                                             of last summer’s CUKES.”
                                 Women hate                                                     There was that uncanny thing again. With a few strokes
                                 this seeking of a vacuum,                                   Updike had limned my inchoate personal impressions, amassed
                                 it gets their edges up,                                     over years of personal experience, and rendered them more
                                 they cannot sleep, they think                               vividly than I could have. How did he know Rhode Island so
                                 of Boreas impregnating primeval Night,                      well? How did he know me?
                                 of skirts rudely lifted in funhouses.


                                                                                             T
                                                                                                      hrough college and beyond, there was hardly a book
                                 It is death made loud:                                               of his I didn’t read. It was that young writer’s greedy
                                 nowhereness bellowing,                                               and ferocious way of being all over another writer’s
                                 now reedy along the copper eaves,                           work. And to think that this person whose books I loved was
                                 now ballooned to a manifold softness by a tree,             a living writer—someone who, unlike Dickens or Austen, was
                                 now scraping like flint on the surface of water,            out there somewhere, writing still more of them.
                                 making arrowhead wrinkles,                                     In 1985, I was living in Manhattan and had just published
                                 seeking somewhere to stop and be.                           a story in the Atlantic. Updike was giving a reading at Seton
                                                                                             Hall University—poetry—and I took a bus out to New Jersey.
                                 Wind carves. It makes mesas                                 In a small lecture room in the student center, Updike stood
                                 and heaps up the waves as a rich man plays                  at a lectern and, in a quiet and surprisingly thin voice, read
                                 with remote corporations that swallow and shift             several poems. Afterward, escorted by the English Department
                                 poor fish by the thousand.                                  chairman, he headed out in the hall to a table set up for book
                                 I lie here listening.                                       signing. I trailed close behind, ready to be recognized should a
                                                                                             magic beam of heavenly light illuminate me in the Aut
				
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