Thursday, September 30, 2010

[Fenway Park] offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities.

I was expecting to have the second book in the Lilith's Brood trilogy done before today and that I'd have a post ready.  Yet the world-at-large got in the way so while I can see the end coming up I haven't yet reached it.  I thought that meant I'd just skip the post this week and move on but I do have something I want to write about.  The other day my dad sent me a piece from The New Yorker written by John Updike in 1960 about Ted Williams last game at Fenway Park titled "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu".  (That was a flurry of prepositions for you.) 

I'm not exactly sure how/why Dad found this story (a question I should probably ask him) but when he read it he said he thought of me.  Now, I wouldn't call myself a sports fan.  I know of them, I've been to many baseball and hockey games but honestly, I couldn't tell you any highlights from the game and sometimes I'm not even 100% sure who won.  But both Dad and Boyfriend are huge sports fans, hence the reason I have been to so many games.  But the sports aspect wasn't why he thought of me.  Part of it was because it is about Fenway Park and because I live in Boston and have been to several Red Sox games he thought I'd be interested to hear what Fenway was like back then.  But more than that he sent me the story because Updike wrote it and he thought I'd enjoy that, regardless of what the topic might be. My dad has selected enough winners (Catch-22, Slaughterhouse 5 and I swear I'll pick up The World According to Garp soon) that at this point if he suggests I should read something, I read it.

I've never read anything by John Updike before, so if anyone has any recommendations please throw them my way.  Actually, I constantly mix up John Updike and Upton Sinclair.  It's the "up" in the name.  One day I decided they were the same and each time I hear either name I have to think "Is that the meatpacking rat guy or the other one?"  Please help me fix that problem.  But for now, onto the essay.

I love Updike's prose.  As I mentioned, I don't really care about sports but his writing pulled me through it, made me want to keep reading and made me sad when it was over as I thought "Why haven't I read anything by him before?"  As Dad described it: "Updike is a wonderful observer of people & his surroundings and his prose is always smart and expressive."  I couldn't have said it better.  The prose isn't always easy but it's lyrical and written in such a way that you can feel Updike thought about each word he selected.  Nothing is accidental and simple (not easy) words carry a powerful description.  Yes, it helps to know your Greek myth references* in order to understand how Williams is like Achilles, but don't avoid this piece even if you don't know your Achilles from your Agamemnon.  Not particularly caring about baseball hasn't stopped me from enjoying it!

*Again, thank you Dad for buying me that book of Greek mythology when I was little.  As you said, if you want to understand Western literature you need to understand Greek myths and the Bible.  Why you thought a 8 year old would get that or care, I don't know but it seems to have worked so bravo!