John Updike's postcard, sent to me in response to my Bunin book, a copy of which I mailed to him in 2006.
The "jaunty photo" refers to a photograph of myself, sitting in the lap of the Ivan Bunin statue in Yelets, Russia, 1998.
There's an eerie kind of foreshadowing here when Updike mentions having caught cold on a trip. When he and his wife returned home in late September, 2008, from a trip to Russia and the Baltic, almost exactly two years after this postcard was written, he was nursing "a cold that wouldn't let go." Then he discovered that he had pneumonia. Then, at the end of November, came the devastating diagnosis: stage-four metastatic lung cancer. See Adam Begley's biography of John Updike, p. 479-80.