Crystal Balls

lampoon cover



lampoon cartoon

Updike was frequently criticized for writing very well about nothing much as we see here in this interview in the Paris Review with Gore Vidal. Updike did the beautiful cover art for this issue of the Harvard Lampoon in 1954 and what is contained inside demonstrates an astonishing awareness of his literary mission and of the critics to come. John Updike was a prodigy and the following cartoon he drew foretells his own future impeccably. Take that Adam Begley!

– Paul Moran


The Paris Review

Gore Vidal, The Art of Fiction No. 50

Interviewed by Gerald Clarke


How about some of the younger writers? What do you think of John Updike, for example?


He writes so well that I wish he could attract my interest. I like his prose, and disagree with Mailer, who thinks it bad. Mailer said it was the kind of bad writing that people who don’t know much about writing think is good. It is an observation that I understand but don’t think applies to Updike. With me the problem is that he doesn’t write about anything that interests me. I am not concerned with middle-class suburban couples. On the other hand, I’m not concerned with adultery in the French provinces either. Yet Flaubert commands my attention. I don’t know why Updike doesn’t. Perhaps my fault.

As you can see Updike’s critics said that he had little to say but that he said it very well.

What is amazing is that WAS (in a good way), his plan all along, as you can see here in this cartoon by Updike in a 1954 issue of the Harvard Lampoon.

That is the definition of prodigy.


I presented this issue to Ian McEwan along with a pair of Updike’s reading glasses at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin Tx


Updike’s glasses and Lampoon near water glass


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“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”-T.S. EliotSCN_0035

“The passage of my life is measured out in shirts”-Brian Eno

“Life is measured out in moments”-Woodbridge wine commercial

“The passage of my life is measured out in checks”







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First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage…

“The only thing Pope Francis could do better is to be Jewish–like Jesus”-Erica Jong


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If Updike Wrote Batman

images-18 images-15 images-16 images-14

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In Every Dream Home A Heartache

Page 6affair final

You think this is the end of the letter? You think Updike gets off that easy?  No more talk about his other lovers? The PS is a killer!


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Both Ends Burning

Page 5affair 5

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Page 4affair 4


Updike’s lover had too many martinis and let him know that she knows that a mutual friend of theirs is/was also his lover. But it’s ok…..really.

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These Foolish Things



Page 3the affair 3


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Will you still love me tomorrow?




Page 2




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And In The Beginning…



Page 1

July 13, 1972 Final Night of the Democratic National Convention




“Johnny And Mary”

Johnny’s always running around
Trying to find certainty
He needs all the world to confirm
That he ain’t lonely
Mary counts the walls
Knows he tires easilyJohnny thinks the world would be right
If it could buy truth from him
Mary says he changes his mind
More than a woman
But she made her bed
Even when the chance was slimJohnny says he’s willing to learn
When he decides he’s a fool
Johnny says he’ll live anywhere
When he earns time to
Mary combs her hair
Says she should be used to itMary always hedges her bets
She never knows what to think
She says that he still acts like he’s
Being discovered
Scared that he’ll be caught
Without a second thought
Running around

Johnny feels he’s wasting his breath
Trying to talk sense to her
Mary says he’s lacking a real
Sense of proportion
So she combs her hair
Knows he tires easily

Johnny’s always running around
Trying to find certainty
He needs all the world to confirm
That he ain’t lonely
Mary counts the walls
Says she should be used to it

Johnny’s always running around
Running around

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Couples: The story your about to read is true…

the affair


Many  years later he still appears to to be intrigued by novel ideas (or ideas for a novel?)


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Celestial Seasonings (on being JUish)


Updike found a nuance in the New Testament that he saw as sorely lacking in the Old. His theology made explicit in his last days may be responsible for the embargo of his final work (until2029) on the foundations of Christianity and the militant theology of Saint Paul (whom he concluded “got it right”).

Updike annoyed “covenanted Jew” and author Cynthia Ozick by implying that Judaism (in Kafka’s case) might be admirably transcended. The difference between the Lord’s treatment of the woman at the well in the New Testament and Lot’s wife in the Old Testament speaks volumes.

The former was treated as a pillar of her community, the latter would become a  pillar of salt.  This begs a difficult question. Is Faith by it’s very nature…exclusive? Can beliefs that are not merely divergent but polar opposite be reconciled in our deepest natures? Here we plead confusion or often present allegorical dilution.

As Updike put it “To be [judged] sane, is to a great extent to be sociable”


 From the heartbreak of psoriasis to Lancome skin care model

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Here’s looking up your old address

address book inside 2address book outside

Updike’s old address book with child’s (?) writing: “I want to go back to Ipswich” and “I miss you 4 Highland Ave Ipswich Mass. The ink isn’t Updike’s could the pencil be be his?


Check for Mother’s trust?



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Ex Pat Updike? Not bloody likely!



“Saying that cultural objects have value,” Brian Eno once wrote, “is like saying that telephones have conversations.” Nearly all the cultural objects we consume arrive wrapped in inherited opinion; our preferences are always, to some extent, someone else’s. Visitors to the “Mona Lisa” know they are about to visit the greatest work of art ever and come away appropriately awed—or let down. An audience at a performance of “Hamlet” know it is regarded as a work of genius, so that is what they mostly see. Watts even calls the pre-eminence of Shakespeare a “historical fluke”.

From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, May/June 2014


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Cape Fear Redux

updike photo finish




san quentin

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Press Clipping

“Giving the mundane its beautiful due” – John Updike

“Attention is what creates value. Artworks are made as well by how people interact with them — and therefore by what quality of interaction they can inspire. So how do we assess an artist who we suspect is dreadful but who manages to inspire the right storm of attention, and whose audience seems to swoon in the appropriate way? We say, ‘Well done.’

The question is: ‘Is the act of getting attention a sufficient act for an artist? Or is that in fact the job description?’

Perhaps the art of the future will be indistinguishable.”  From Brian Eno’s diary

John Updike's things in need of home - Austin Statesman

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The End?

41TR1NTKVSL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_disc in boximgresJohn Updike's Award



Updike Photos from Wikipedia

{in} “this time of foreboding about the future of Western culture, it is crucial to identify and preserve our finest artifacts.”                Camille Paglia


Dedicated to Patrick Joseph Moran, Genevieve Moran and to my wonderful wife Mary


White House

Thank you all for visiting The Other John Updike Archive. Special thanks to James Yerkes, Jack DeBellis, Jim Plath and the entire John Updike Society for their support and encouragement. I have decided that this would be an appropriate time to end this project. There are many more personal effects in this collection as well as unpublished and sensitive material, but I would be be risking copyright infringement if I were to persist. The thousands of photographs taken by this master of observation alone are priceless.

Of course my greatest thanks go to John Updike for taking the time to talk to me even when he was sick, and for his generosity. I believe that the intellectual output of John Hoyer Updike has something to say to all of us about faith, politics, independent thought and leading a fully actualized life.

The avant-garde art world increasingly struggles with trying to appeal to a jaded audience with the latest attire worn by the Emperor.  I hope to see the quiet trend of Kula Art develop. This is my feeble attempt to see the hand of a loving God at work within common, everyday and ordinary objects. That is the enduring legacy that this great artist and fellow spiritual traveller left for us. In the words of Warren Zevon when asked if he had learned anything from his diagnosis of terminal cancer: “Enjoy every sandwich”

 Paul J Moran December 15, 2013       



This was taken from his “Remarks upon Receiving the Campion Medal” which was bestowed upon him by the Catholic Book Club in New York City on 11 September 1997. It came from the lead essay in “John Updike and Religion,” edited by James Yerkes.

John said that the “faulty cosmology” was a literal interpretation of the first chapters of Genesis (a la Creationists.) The “shrewd psychology” was that St. Paul and St. Augustine had “got it right.” The Christian existentialist, Kierkegaard, has expressed this more recently as “Man is in a state of fear and trembling, separated from God, twisted by the conflicting demands of his animal biology and human intelligence, of the social contract and the inner imperatives.”


“there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it in the slow movement of
the hands of a clock.people so tired
either by love or no love.people just are not good to each other
one on one.

the rich are not good to the rich
the poor are not good to the poor.

we are afraid.

our educational system tells us
that we can all be
big-ass winners.

it hasn’t told us
about the gutters
or the suicides.

or the terror of one person
aching in one place

unspoken to

watering a plant.”
― Charles Bukowski, Love is a Dog from Hell



IMG_0104 IMG_0106IMG_0103


#1- John Updike’s final notes on St Paul, Judaism, and the foundations of Christianity to be released.

#2-  J.F.K. Assassination files to be released to the public.  


John Updike on the JFK “Umbrella”  Man conspiracy theory:6th Floor Museum

 “We wonder whether a genuine mystery is being concealed here or whether any similar scrutiny of a minute section of time and space would yield similar strangenesses—gaps, inconsistencies, warps, and bubbles in the surface of circumstance.”- JU


Also in 2029:                                          April 13  – The asteroid 99942 Apophis (previously better known by its provisional designation 2004 MN4) will pass within 30,000 km (18,600 mi) of the Earth, very briefly appearing as bright as 3rd magnitude. -wiki



Pyxis Redux


The Sambucus bears it’s noble rot


Decanted of its fluent prize


Within the lair once called a hutch


A nascent cipher on the rise


The sangre flowing from a shoot


A ribbed vessel cried aloud


The claret spread around like soot 


On stone it fell and rose in cloud


Within this wood a cache was kept


A hoard of food for future thought


In grace like dew a garden wept


A new sarcophagus was wrought


A northward wall that stems the tide


Makes one last stand on lucky foot


And trips upon an awkward stone


Ensnared within that ancient root

 -Paul Moran



Do Not Open Until Christmas

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Christmas Cards


Christmas Cards By John Updike

December, Outdoors by John Updike

final entries_0015

George SJ

XMAS Martha

Sorry FredFord 1Ford 2Ford 3Ford 4Ford 5

Ford 6

XMas Goodies

Lithgow 1

Lithgow 2

XMas DonaldNew Yorker ChristmasMerry Xmas LindaLove MChristmas Concert

HendersonsCat Man 2

Lithgow 3

Lithgow 4



Jimmy Carter1 Jimmy 2

Eliot Richardson ER 2

Bush 3 Bush 4

Bush 1 Bush 1 pt 2

Bilary Bilary 2



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Christianity Is A Scandal

  “There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Edith Wharton

phillip roth

“In 1971, in a small piece of Bechiana unfortunately not included in the paperbacks (but available online), Updike wrote a profile of himself for the New York Times Book Review under the byline of Henry Bech. “The book about me,” Updike-as-Bech reports Updike-as-Updike saying, “had not so much been about a Jew as about a writer, who was a Jew with the same inevitability that a fictional rug salesman would be an Armenian.” There is an unmistakable edge in this protestation, with its pointed embrace of rude stereotypes—just try asking an Armenian how he would feel about being called a rug merchant.

But the deeper irony lies in the fact that the identification of Jew with American writer should itself be that kind of stereotype, something so automatic as to seem cliché. Half a century later, the glory days of American Jewish writing seem like something out of a museum or textbook: We remember the names Ozick invited to her fictional party, then add even greater names like Bellow, Roth, Mailer, and Malamud, and wish we could have been part of it all. Reading the Bech stories is a useful reminder of how unexpected, how sheerly unlikely, this Jewish moment must have seemed to a Protestant writer of Updike’s generation.

After all, Updike, born in 1932 and raised, as so many author bios reminded us, in small-town Shillington, Pa., inherited a literary culture in which all the great names sounded much more like John Updike than like Bernard Malamud. For Updike to enter into his career and find himself suddenly the anomaly, an outlier against the Jewish average, must have been a surprise and could well have turned into an ugly shock—as it unmistakably did for Gore Vidal, who has always enjoyed dipping his toes in the waters of anti-Semitism. The Bech books can be seen, then, as Updike’s good-humored, essentially benevolent, but still curious and awkward attempt to figure out what was going on in the lives and minds of his Jewish peers.” -Adam Kirsch From John Updike the Jew



Saint Paul’s “Tether to the Athenians”.

The Temptation of Saint Paul. John Updike’s final novel?  Is St. Paul’s love for Timothy considered too controversial for inclusion into the Updike oeuvre? Is Paul’s rejection of heterosexual love and his love for Timothy, a reflection of the God ordained misogyny of tribal Judaism. Is this too delicate for publication until 2029? Mere speculation…


Was St. Paul Gay? Claim Stirs Fury

Published: February 2, 1991

Throughout his ministry as an Episcopal priest and bishop, John S. Spong has been surrounded by controversy as he has labored on the leading edge of movements to bring blacks, women and homosexuals into the full life of his church.

But now that he has written that St. Paul, the apostle and first great teacher of Christianity, was a “self-loathing and repressed gay male,” even his defenders are expressing shock. Many are saying that this maverick voice of mainstream Christianity is fast losing credibility and may soon be regarded as little more than a street corner prophet whom everyone sees but no one hears. Bishop Spong, the 59-year-old head of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, has managed to keep a loyal and attentive following despite a swirl of Spong-centered disputes both nationally and in his home diocese. Understanding Paul

Conservative bishops, for example, asked that Bishop Spong be censured for ordaining a sexually active gay man, but the House of Bishops refused, deciding instead to merely “disassociate” itself from his actions. And, in his own diocese, at least one priest has sued Bishop Spong in court, charging that he illegally withheld parish funds. Most of his priests, however, have stood by him, either out of genuine admiration or, some suggest, fear.

Bishop Spong, married and the father of three grown daughters, makes his argument about Paul’s sexuality in a new book, “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism,” published yesterday by Harper Collins.




Was the Apostle Paul Gay? 

John Updike the Jew 



Time Magazine: The Pope’s Favorite Rabbi




Jacob “Jack” Neusner photographed at
his home in Rhinebeck, New York on May 10, 2007.
Gillian Laub for TIME

Asked what he would like to write next, (fellow Harvard alum and Updike friend) Neusner says, “I’d like to do a book with the Pope about Paul,” whose letter, Romans, contains verses that have long bedeviled Jewish-Christian relations. He is half-joking. But what if the Pope said yes? What new wonder might emerge when two smart men agree to disagree but then keep talking?

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Wiki Leaks 2029: Why The Secrecy?



The 1,635 books in the Updike archive are already available to scholars. Manuscripts will be ready as early as August, and correspondence will be open to researchers by the end of the year. The novel on which he was working at the time of his death, which involved St. Paul and early Christianity, will not be available until 2029. From The Harvard Gazette, Updike’s roots and evolution


“The non-scientist’s relation to modern science is basically craven: we look to its discoveries and technology to save us from disease, to give us a faster ride and a softer life, and at the same time we shrink from what it has to tell us of our perilous and insignificant place in the cosmos. Not that threats to our safety and significance were absent from the pre-scientific world, or that arguments against a God-bestowed human grandeur were lacking before Darwin. But our century’s revelations of unthinkable largeness and unimaginable smallness, of abysmal stretches of geological time when we were nothing, of supernumerary galaxies and indeterminate subatomic behavior, of a kind of mad mathematical violence at the heart of matter have scorched us deeper than we know.”    -John Updike


Farewell to John Updike, a man of wry and reserved delicacy  – Slate by Christopher Hitchens

Feb 2, 2009 – Most of the celebrations and elegies for the great John Updike were abysmally bland, praising him as the bard and chronicler of the great  




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