He said he had four studies in his house so we can imagine him writing a poem in one of his studies before breakfast, then in the next study writing a hundred pages of a novel, then in the afternoon he writes a long and brilliant essay for the New Yorker, and then in the fourth study he blurts out a couple of poems. John Updike must have been possessed of a purer energy than any writer since DH Lawrence.
I often talk about the conversations we can have with other writers - friends or strangers, dead or alive. Amis does it too later in his article:
With great stylists an innovators, you learn after a while not to be influenced - what such a writer is is an inspiration. Several times a day you turn to him, as you will now to his ghost, and say to yourself, 'How would Updike have done it?'.
And Larry Dark of the Story Prize has a great piece too. He quotes another dialogue, but this time in an extract by John Updike he published which was a conversation between Updike's Oppositional Other (O.O.) and Self. As Dark says, 'The gist of it was that O.O. felt Self was being, well, self-indulgent.'
I am weary of Self-Consciousness. What I have written here discomfits me; it is indiscreet and yet inaccurate, a greedy squandering of life's minute-by-minute savings, a careless provisional raid upon the abyss of being. Fiction, which does not pretend to be true, is much truer. This stuff is embarrassing. The reviewers will jump all over it. I think I'll save myself a peck of trouble and not publish.
Self: Oh, go ahead. It was written, after all, only by Updike; it has nothing to do with me.
And, in my opinion, one of the best meetings with Updike is that written by Nicholson Baker in his book, U & I. Except it's not really Baker talking to Updike, it's more one side of Baker getting out of the way so U and I can have the conversation, and I'm not sure they ever met. Hmmm.... read it and see.