But is it Art?
I've been on a bit of an Updike kick since he died. These are the writers I admire the most: the ones who leave behind an astonishing assortment of novels, essays, poetry collections, New Yorker articles, and the like.
So I picked up his 1997 novel Toward the End of Time at the library. It's not for everyone; it's the rambling thoughts of a dirty old man in the year 2020, after the United States has sunk into a decline brought about by war with China and a general collapse of the government and financial system.
I mean, how far-fetched is that?
But the great thing about this novel is that the protagonist's wife is a serious, hard-core gardener. While he shuffles around the house wondering whether a man his age would still have the sexual potency to make it with his daughter-in-law, she is outside vigorously going after the deer and moving forsythia bushes around the landscape. Updike is all about the details, and he really nails this garden.
I submit the following for your consideration:
The peonies needed to be propped: even I could see that. Gloria had always done everything, and supervised what she could not do. She had ever been on the telephone to lawn services, tree services, sprinkler-system maintainers, greenhouses, nurseries, and spent muddy-kneed hours out in the garden beds, digging, planting, transplanting, mixing the manure and peat moss, mulch, and loam, wearing a big battered straw hat we had once bought in St. Croix on holiday. I had liked the dirty way she looked, with earth smeared on her cheek where she had rubbed a mosquito bite with a muddy glove, and the way she, dog-tired at dusk, would leave all her caked and sweaty clothes in the laundry room, including her underpants, and walk upstairs nude, past her staring ancestral antiques, to soak her aching body in the tub, leaving me to put a quiche or a defrozen meat loaf in the oven for dinner. Men like being useful. I had liked serving my naked queen of tilth.
on April 3, 2009 at 9:10 am, in the category But is it Art?.