John Updike, one of America’s most acclaimed writers, died today at age 76. John Updike may be most famous for The Witches of Eastwick and his Rabbit series. Many who have been through high school and college literature classes, however, will probably know him best for his adolescent teen-angst short story “A&P,” about the observances of a young supermarket clerk. Updike focused on small-town America and, as such, captured something remarkably familiar to 20th Century Americans in his writing. Updike’s hyper-descriptive style which brought these down-to-earth stories to life may be a product of his background in both English and graphic arts (visual artists tend to write in a very illustrative style). Updike may have been one of the most important American authors of the past century. Along with the recent death of quintessential American artist Andrew Wyeth, this is looking to be a year of great loss for the American arts and humanities.