John Updike dead at 76

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...according to his longtime publisher, Alfred A. Knopf. All The New York Times has on it so far is the AP report, but expect copious and florid obits, reminiscences, and stories in days to come.

Updike was about the least-Southern writer of the 20th century, and I completely admit: I never got him, and I tried. (The great Southern essayist Florence King once compared reading Updike to "trying to cut through whale blubber with a pair of embroidery scissors.") Here, for instance, the NYT quotes from his autobiography, Self-Consciousness:

Now I have long since, in deference to my emphysema, given up smoking, even the smoking of little cigars that, after I broke the cigarette habit, used to get me through the stress of composition. Also, I have given up salt and coffee in deference to high blood pressure and alcohol in deference to methotrexate. The big-bellied Lutheran God within me looks on scoffingly. 'Hunde, wollt ihr ewig leben?' Frederick the Great thundered at his battle-shy soldiers - 'Dogs, would you live forever?' '

R.I.P, Mr. Updike; many people smarter than I thought you were the best, but your work just never clicked for me. Any Updike fans out there want to school me?

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