The Other John Updike Archive
Culture Vulture

Culture Vulture

“I thought of John Updike.  Surely when he dies, somebody will be rifling through his home, looking for things to sell.  It was unlikely that his own children, if he had any, would sell his nail clippers, underwear or ChapStick.  But certainly cousins would do this.  Nieces and nephews would absolutely offer his pens, unused pads of paper, bookends for sale. Probably other things.

John Updike, legendary American author.  For auction: Chair cushion, blue toile fabric.  Cushion from desk chair, used daily by celebrated author.  Distinctive impressions in pillow, from correlating anatomical features of author. Condition is described as “well enjoyed”.  Cushion manufactured circa 1940.  Believed to be from Sears, Roebuck & Co.  This is an authentic piece of Americana, from the personal estate of one of the country’s most famous and widely read authors.  Truly a unique collectable.  One of a kind. Minimum bid: $3,500.

But that’s what happens when you die.  The vultures come. Sometimes even before you die.”

Killing John Updike

From the book Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs


Sometime in the ’90’s a guy walked into my regular bar. It was a quiet day in a usually busy place that was at times my second home. It is called In A Pigs Eye in Salem MA.  He sat down at the bar and ordered a drink. This afternoon we were the only two customers in the place.

I introduced myself.  He said his name was Augusten Burroughs. “Nice name!” I said: “My favorite saint (Augustine) and my favorite author!” (William Burroughs). He looked at me blankly and said:“AugusTEN” (not Augustine) in a tone as cold as the ice he appeared to be studying in his glass. We finished our drink in silence.  Paul Moran


Auctions Organized By Theme, with a Narrative Pull

Last month, Christie’s South Kensington held “Out of the Ordinary,” a sale of items deemed either “visually striking or with an intriguing story to tell.” Among its 153 lots, curated from about 1,000 offered to Christie’s, were a set of eight paintbrushes used by the British figurative painter Francis Bacon in 1969, a bronze death mask of Napoleon, and a slice of fruit cake preserved in cellophane, but inedible, from Queen Elizabeth II’s 1947 wedding, in a presentation box.


NYT Published: October 25, 2013

From The Pen 

The term “confidence trick” has a bad meaning, but it shouldn’t. In culture, confidence is the currency of value. Once you surrender the idea of intrinsic, objective value, you start asking the question “if the value isn’t in there, where does it come from?” It’s obviously from the transaction: it’s the product of the quality of a relationship between me, the observer, and something else. So how is that relationship stimulated, enriched, given value? By creating an atmosphere of confidence where I am ready to engage with and perhaps surrender to the world it suggests.  From Brian Enos Diary