Conversations with John Updike

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John Updike says: Any act of description is, to some extent, an act of praise, so that even when the event is unpleasant or horrifying or spiritually stunning, the very attempt to describe it is, in some way, part of that Old Testament injunction to give praise. Even though my books strike many people as immoral or morally useless, to me they are really moral investigations of how we live, and harsh, perhaps, because the standards are otherworldly. There was a tradition among my peers for frank and open talk, and I'd always been a rather shy, priggish, unexperienced adolescent. So maybe my revenge as a young adult was to put down all the dirty words that I'd always been a little shy about using. James Plath, a professor of English at Illinois Wesleyan University, is editor-publisher of Clockwatch Review and director of Hemingway Days Writer's Workshop and Conference in Key West.