Updike on Dinosaurs

Novelist John Updike writes a good, short piece in the latest National Geographic on some of the “new” (and weirder) dinosaurs recently discovered. I mention this because topic and author tug at several lines of interest running through this blog, and because I’m fascinated by literary journalism, whatever you call it, the journalism written by novelists.

Jonathan Franzen, better known for his fiction and for writing so well about himself, wrote a characteristically great piece–straight journalism–on the US Postal Service in his collection How To Be Alone. There are many examples, notably Steve’s own writing which is hard to mash into any category but certainly crosses several. Good writing is good writing.

Here’s the last paragraph of Updike’s piece. I think it’s wonderful.

Of the dinosaurs, he writes, “They continue to live in the awareness of their human successors on the throne of earthly dominance. They fascinate children as well as paleontologists. My second son, I well remember, collected the plastic dinosaur miniatures that came in cereal boxes, and communed with them in his room. He loved them—their amiable grotesquirie, their guileless enormity, their unassuming small brains. They were eventual losers, in a game of survival our own species is still playing, but new varieties keep emerging from the rocks to amuse and amaze us.”

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