John Updike has long been a bountiful boon to the Begley family. In the early 1950s, Updike and Louis Begley were classmates together at Harvard, both studying English. Updike, of course, went on to become a famous writer. Begley had a long career as a lawyer but took up fiction late in life, starting to publish his first books in the early 1990s.
Begley’s most famous novel About Schmidt (1996) was made into a well-regarded film starring Jack Nicholson. The basic conceit of the film About Schmidt — a well-to-do American suburbanite write letters about his unhappy domestic life to a foreign child he’s sponsoring – owes more than a little to “Dear Alexandros”, a short story Updike wrote in 1959.
Now Adam Begley, Louis’ son, has received an advance by HarperCollins to write a life of Updike. In life and in death, Updike continues to be, for the Begley clan, the gift that keeps on giving.
(Note: Thanks to a comment by reader DW, I’ve corrected this post to make it clear that it’s the film About Schmidt that borrows from “Dear Alexandros”).