John Updike (cf: blog of 3/5/06) died January 27 and the New Yorker recently published his last poetry written as late as December 22. I was struck by the line, “Dear friends of childhood, classmates, thank you, scant hundred of you, for providing a sufficiency of human types: beauty, bully, hanger-on, natural, twin, and fatso—all a writer needs. . . .”
There were only a scant hundred of you, too. Our class was a little larger, but some I barely knew, so a “scant hundred” is about right, even including childhood friends. It is surprisingly few.
But most surprising is the variety of you all, a “sufficiency of human types” for even a professional writer to draw on. From Jimmy Valentine to Bill Arnold, from Edith Baranya to Gail Bonner, from Fred Albee to Bill Slothower, from Bill Rumberger to “Snook” Micalizzi. I could go on—you could go on— contrasting classmates, judging neither one better nor worse, just different. What an amazing palette of human characteristics. It keeps me fascinated even now.
I, too, thank you for this.