[God, this makes two late authors with whom I've interacted and could call "one of the people in my neighborhood." The other was Robert Cormier.]
I admit that I wasn't a fan of his novels, though Lord knows I tried.
But of the man himself, I was a fan. He didn't live too far from me (He lived in Beverly Farms and I used to live in Beverly), and he was a frequent visitor to the local Borders where I worked.
He was quiet, unassuming, and unfailingly polite. He was uncomfortable whenever someone recognized him in the bookstore and would make himself quickly scarce once the word was out that he was in da house.
He seemed to enjoy it when we booksellers would treat him just like any other customer and recommend whatever new book was out and whatever new book we were reading. He liked it when we talked to him like we "failed" to recognize him.
This, despite the fact that one of my older co-workers knew his family quite well.
I cannot speak for what he was like when he interacted with others on a professional level. I can only speak to what he was like as a bookstore customer. On that score I can say: He was a regular, and struck me as somewhat shy. Not at all what people might expect.
But most importantly, he never treated us like we were minimum wage slaves, and he never treated us like we were the hired help. I can't say I knew him well, but what I did know I rather liked.
So, let's raise a glass to a true Yankee author, and hope that in his afterlife, he gets to enjoy The Perfect Bookstore, where the stories are always free and the best of writers are always dropping in for a chat.
Gallery of John Updike photos.