John Updike died today of lung cancer. He will be remembered as one of America’s greatest writers. I love his short stories, especially A&P. I never tire of reading this story.
In walks these three girls in nothing but bathing suits. I’m in the third check-out slot, with my back to the door, so I don’t see them until they’re over by the bread. The one that caught my eye first was the one in the plaid green two-piece. She was a chunky kid, with a good tan and a sweet broad soft-looking can with those two crescents of white just under it, where the sun never seems to hit, at the top of the backs of her legs. I stood there with my hand on a box of HiHo crackers trying to remember if I rang it up or not. I ring it up again and the customer starts giving me hell. She’s one of these cash-register-watchers, a witch about fifty with rouge on her cheekbones and no eyebrows, and I know it made her day to trip me up. She’d been watching cash registers forty years and probably never seen a mistake before.
Nicholson Baker’s U&I is a humorous tribute to Updike if you’ve never read it. It’s been a few years but I may have to reread this book. Tonight I raise my glass to Mr. Updike.