John Keenan at The Guardian:
Postal workers in Beverly, Massachusetts, no doubt learned by heart the route from their depot to the home of author John Updike, on the area’s north shore. In his biography of the celebrated writer, Adam Begley tells us that Updike’s wife Martha warned that “if he had access to email, he would spend every waking hour responding to messages, so he steered clear, relying on the postal service and FedEx”.
Katie Roiphe wrote in The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End: “Updike’s correspondence is so charming and lively and wonderful that it evokes the man more powerfully than his published bits of autobiography. It may not be surprising that much of the work of friendship, for Updike, existed on the page.”
But while Updike corresponded with the likes of John Barth, Joyce Carol Oates and Ian McEwan, it was not only authorly names and close friends that received his letters: James Schiff, an associate professor of English at the University of Cincinnati, is working on a volume of Updike’s letters and has unearthed thousands of letters, postcards, and notes the author sent to complete strangers who wrote to him.