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Rabbit, Run ()


The Hungry Mind Review's 100 Best 20th Century Books

Perhaps, THE great novelist of his generation, Updike is best known for his brilliant essay on Ted Williams' last game (Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu) & his series of Rabbit novels.  As the first of these opens, Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom is a 26 year old former High School basketball star, who finds himself trapped (like a rabbit, get it) in a marriage that is on the rocks, with a young son and a job he loathes--demonstrating a kitchen gadget called the MagiPeeler.  Coming home from work one day, Harry stops to play hoops with some neighborhood kids & revels in his ability to tool on them, until he starts sucking wind.  When he gets home his pregnant wife is drunk & he goes out to get their son from his Mom's house, but ends up driving to West Virginia instead.  Stopping at a roadside cafe and examining the clientele he wonders, "Is it just these people I'm outside, or is it all America?"

Rabbit decides to bail out on his family, but wants to get some advice from his High School Basketball coach, who proceeds to set him up with a semi-pro whore.  Rabbit moves in with her & when he sneaks home to get some his clothes, he is corralled by the family minister, who asks him one of the great questions of the Age of Divorce: Do clean clothes mean so much to you?  Whycling to that decency if trampling on others is so easy?

Harry, of course, is unable to answer this question, but he agrees to meet with the minister again &
they become golf partners.  Meanwhile, Harry takes a job as a gardener & lives with his trollop.  But when his wife gives birth to a daughter, he moves back home (leaving the now pregnant other woman behind) & takes a job at his father-in-law's used car lot.

When one night Harry decides that he must have sex (it's a little opaque but I believe he wished to enjoy anal pleasures) his wife spurns him & Harry takes off again.  He knows he should go home but "Something held him back...the feeling that somewhere there was something better for him than listening to babies cry and cheating people in used-car lots..."    Meanwhile, as Harry wanders about, his wife proceeds to get drunk & while trying to give the baby a bath, accidentally drowns her.

At the funeral, Harry turns to his wife and says, "Don't look at me, I didn't kill her",then runs away.  He goes to his other woman & tells her she has to have the baby, but hardly meets with a friendly reception.  He goes out for some groceries and just starts running--Run, Rabbit, Run.

There is one fact that lies at the core of this novel and prevents us from developing much interest in it's events; Rabbit Angstrom is a prick.  I'd read this series before, but forgotten just how unlikable he is.

Richard Ford must have consciously plagiarized this novel, because I don't think the subconscious could have achieved such total similarity between Rabbit and The Sportswriter.  So my criticism is much the same.  Rabbit, like the Sportswriter, is completely self-centered.  His job isn't good enough for him, his wife isn't good enough for him, his life isn't good enough, and so, he's perfectly willing to destroy what he has & abandon the obligations he's taken on, in order to go in search of something better.

But then, even as he destroys the supports that underpin the lives of those around him, he has the gall to bemoan the absence of God as a support in his life.  There is nothing more annoying than these Iron John-type men, who, on the one hand, revel in the freedom that they've gained with the demise of social structures like the nuclear family and the Church, but, on the other hand, caterwaul about how they've lost their way & can't find anything to believe in anymore.

So ultimately I come to the same conclusion as I did in my Sportswriter review; Updike writes so well that we are carried along despite ourselves, but we're left wanting more out of him--some editorial judgment about Rabbit as he exists (how does a man justify his concern for clean clothes when he's destroying his wife & children?) or some development by Rabbit toward being a better man.  Instead, Rabbit ends the book as he began it, running away from his commitments.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (C)

  

Websites:

John Updike Links:

    -OBIT: American writer John Updike dies (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, January 27, 2009, NY Times)
    -OBIT: John Updike dies at 76; Pulitzer-winning author (Mary Rourke, January 28, 2009, LA Times)
    -OBIT: John Updike, Author, Dies at 76 (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, January 27, 2009 )
    -OBIT: John Updike: Prolific author who captured the spirit of middle America and is best known for his Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom series (Daily Telegraph, 27 Jan 2009)
    -OBIT: Acclaimed writer John Updike dies at 76 (Mark Feeney, 1/27/09, Boston Globe)
    -OBIT: John Updike dies: Pulitzer prize-winning novelist dies from lung cancer aged 76 (Helen Pidd, 1/27/09, guardian.co.uk)
    -OBIT: John Updike, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, dies of lung cancer at age 76 (Michelle Kerns, 1/27/09, Book Examiner)
    -OBIT: Novelist John Updike dies at 76 (Bob Hoover, 1/27/09, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
    -Remembrances: Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist John Updike Dies (Talk of the Nation, January 27, 2009)
    -OBIT: Prize-Winning 'Rabbit' Writer John Updike Dies ( HILLEL ITALIE, January 27, 2009, The Associated Press)
    -TRIBUTE: John Updike, baseball writer (King Kaufman, 1/27/09, Salon)
    -TRIBUTE: John Updike Dead at 76 & Updike Media (OpenCulture, January 27th, 2009)
    -TRIBUTE: John Updike: A look back (Marjorie Kehe, 01.27.09, CS Monitor)
    -TRIBUTE: Dear John: What I'll miss about John Updike. (John Irving, Jan. 28, 2009, Slate)
    -TRIBUTE: John Updike, 'Theological Novelist,' Dies at 76: The Pulitzer winner surveyed the spiritual emptiness of post-World War II family life. (Katelyn Beaty, 1/27/09, Christianity Today)
    -OBIT: John Updike, Literary Heavyweight (Lev Grossman, Jan. 27, 2009, TIME)
    -TRIBUTE: John Updike's life and work : The entry from "The Salon.com Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors," published in 2000. (David Lipsky, Salon)
    -TRIBUTE: A rich run remembered (Robert Fulford, 1/27/09, National Post)
    -TRIBUTE: Rabbit at Rest: The best of Updike, the worst of Updike, and why the two are connected. (Troy Patterson, Jan. 27, 2009, Slate)
      -The Centaurian (A HOME PAGE FOR JOHN UPDIKE INFORMATION AND  DISCUSSION)
    -WIKIPEDIA: John Updike
    -John Updike (kirjasto)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: John Updike (IMDB)
    -Life & Times : John Updike (1932-- )  (NY Times)
    -FEATURED AUTHOR: REVIEWS OF JOHN UPDIKE'S BOOKS (NY Times)
    -Literary Research Guide: John Updike (1932 - )
    -BIO: John Updike (Academy of Achievement)
    -AUTHOR PAGE: John Updike (Random House)
    -John Updike (Bookreporter)
    -John Updike (Poets.org)
    -John Updike (2008 Jefferson Lecturer on the Humanities)
    -PORTRAIT: JOHN UPDIKE (born 1932) [Alex Katz (born 1927)]
    -ESSAY: Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu (John Updike, 10/22/1960, The New Yorker)
    -ESSAY: The Writer in Winter: A literary legend shares his greatest hope: that his last book will be his best (John Updike, November & December 2008, AARP)
    -ESSAY: This I Believe (John Updike, NPR)
    -ESSAY: The Individual (John Updike, November 2007, Atlantic Monthly)
    -ESSAY: A sage for all seasons: Walden, Henry Thoreau's classic account of life in a simple one-room cabin in New England remains, 150 years on, an anti-establishment masterpiece and a testament to individualism (John Updike, 6/26/04, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: Extreme Dinosaurs: A bizarre gallery of Mesozoic monsters prompts John Updike to ask: What has evolution wrought? (John Updike, December 2007, National Geographic)
    -REVIEW: AN OBSTINATE SURVIVOR: Robert Hughes takes on the life of Goya. (JOHN UPDIKE, 2003-11-03, The New Yorker)
   
-ESSAY: Nineteen Forties (JOHN UPDIKE, 7/04/1965, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: Writers I Have Met (JOHN UPDIKE, 8/11/1968, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: Henry Bech Redux (HENRY BECH, 11/14/1971, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: Golf (John Updike, 6/10/1973, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: A FEW WORDS IN DEFENSE OF THE AMATEUR READER (John Updike, February 19, 1984, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: Andy Warhol: Artist, philosopher, impresario. He changed American culture. You can worship him for that. Or blame him. (JOHN UPDIKE, May 15, 2003, Rolling Stone)
    -ESSAY: The End of Authorship (John Updike, June 25, 2006, NY Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: Smoke signals: It took John Updike two years to get his first short story published. Now, 50 years and 55 books later, he has compiled a selection of his earliest work, some of it out of print for decades. Here he reflects on the biographical echoes (John Updike, 1/10/04, The Guardian)
    -EXCERPT: First Chapter of The Terrorist
    -SHORT STORY: The Full Glass (John Updike, May 26, 2008, The New Yorker)
    -SHORT STORY: Outage (John Updike, 1/07/08, The New Yorker)
    -SHORT STORY: My Father's Tears (John Updike, 2/27/06, The New Yorker)
    -SHORT STORY: The Roads of Home (John Updike, 2/07/05, The New Yorker)
    -SHORT STORY: Elsie by Starlight (John Updike, 7/05/04, The New Yorker)
    -SHORT STORY: The Walk with Elizanne (John Updike, 7/07/03, The New Yorker)
    -SHORT STORY: Witnesses (John Updike, Bold Type)
    -SHORT STORY: The Rumor (John Updike, June 1991, Esquire)
    -POEM: Seven Stanzas at Easter (John Updike)
    -POEM: Ex-Basketball Player (John Updike)
    -POEM: Venetian Candy (John Updike)
    -POEM: Returning Native (John Updike)
    -POEM: On the Road (John Updike)
    -POEM: Penumbrae (John Updike)
    -POEM: Saying Goodbye to Very Young Children (John Updike)
    -REVIEW: of Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger (John Updike, The New York Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Aiding and Abetting by Muriel Spark (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of On Histories and Stories: Selected Essays and The Biographer’s Tale by A.S. Byatt (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Peter J. Conradi’s Iris Murdoch: A Life (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of The Complete Works of Isaac Babel (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Sinclair Lewis: Rebel from Main Street by Richard Lingeman (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Atonement by Ian McEwan (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Mortals by Norman Rush (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Philip Larkin’s Collected Poems (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Orhan Pamuk’s Snow (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Robert Alter’s translation of The Five Books of Moses (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Soren Kierkegaard: A Biography” by Joakim Garff and translated from the Danish by Bruce H. Kirmmse (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Flashman on the March” by George MacDonald Frasier (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Michel Houellebecq's The Possibility of an Island (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of The Annotated Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Walter Isaacson’s Einstein: His Life and Universe (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Matthew Avery Sutton’s “Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Flann O'Brien Novels (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of William Maxwell Novels (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of A Mercy by Toni Morrison (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of America, America by Ethan Canin (John Updike, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of New Art City by Jed Perl (John Updike, The New York Times Book Review)
    -ESSAY: Wood v. Updike v. Baker (Sam Tanenhaus, 8/13/08, NY Times Paper Cuts)
    -ESSAY: John Updike's American Comedies (Joyce Carol Oates, Jun 11, 2003)
      -ESSAY: Feminist Critique of Updike's "A&P": Overcoming pre-assigned gender roles (Jill Douglass, Oct 15, 2008, Suite 101)
    -ESSAY: Art of the Feud (RACHEL DONADIO, November 19, 2006, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: John Updike’s Dead: Do We Still Have To Pretend To Like His Books? (Ben Shapiro, 1/28/09, Big Hollywood)
    -INTERVIEW: with John Updike (Charlie Rose, 11/12/08)
    -INTERVIEW: John Updike: descent of man: John Updike, who has died aged 76, was interviewed last month by the Daily Telegraph's Mick Brown. In it, the author explores the subject of celebrity, recalls his first meeting with Barack Obama, and talks of the role of the writer. Here is the interview in full. (Mick Brown, 27 Jan 2009, Daily Telegraph)
    -INTERVIEW: with John Updike (The Diane Rehm Show, Jun. 5, 2006)
    -INTERVIEW: with John Updike (Fresh Air from WHYY, Oct-14-1997)
    -INTERVIEW: John Updike Explores Arab Immigrant Culture (Steve Inskeep, June 13, 2006, NPR: Morning Edition)
    -INTERVIEW: 'Did I actually write a soliloquy for a hamster?': This season's Updike is a sequel to The Witches of Eastwick, and he's already at work on the novel after next, a tale of ancient Rome. In a rare interview, he talks of women and witchcraft with Peter Conrad, before dismissing Sarah Palin as a 'bird-brain', doing a wicked impression of John McCain and endorsing Obama for President (Peter Conrad, 10/26/08, The Observer)
    -INTERVIEW: THE SALON INTERVIEW: JOHN UPDIKE: "As close as you can get to the stars" (DWIGHT GARNER, Salon)
    -INTERVIEW: Audio Interview with John Updike (Don Swain, Wired for Books)
    -VIDEO INTERVIEW: with John Updike (Spike)
    -INTERVIEW: with John Updike (Charlie Rose, 11/06/98)
    -INTERVIEW: An Interview With John Updike: In 'Terrorist,' a Cautious Novelist Takes On a New Fear (CHARLES McGRATH, May 31, 2006, NY Times)
    -INTERVIEW: Going Home Again (CHARLES McGRATH, November 19, 2000, NY Times)
    -INTERVIEW: John Updike's Latest Novel, 'Bech' Sequel, Draws on Himself (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, October 17, 1982, NY Times)
    -INTERVIEW: John Updike Completes a Sequel to 'Rabbit, Run' (HENRY RAYMONT, July 27, 1971, NY Times)
    -INTERVIEW: JOHN UPDIKE: The Art of Fiction (Interviewed by Charles Thomas Samuels, Winter 1968, Paris Review)
    -PROFILE: Animated ambitions: Before John Updike settled on writing as a career, he wanted to be a cartoonist and badgered his heroes to send him signed copies of their work. Jeet Heer recently uncovered one letter, sent to the creator of Little Orphan Annie, when Updike was 15 (Jeet Heer, 5/20/04, The Guardian)
    -PROFILE: Sunshine and shadows: A child of the Depression, John Updike wanted to be a cartoonist. Now an acclaimed and prolific literary writer, his novels and short stories reflect America's transition over half a century. He is innately conservative, with a deep religious faith, and his richly explicit prose is marked by compassion and humour. Next weekend he appears at the Guardian Hay Festival (James Campbell, 5/22/04, The Guardian)
    -PROFILE: Updike, laureate of lewd, backs sex on your mobile (John Harlow, 12/14/08, Times of London)
    -PROFILE: Writing too enjoyable for John Updike to consider retirement (JOHN MARK EBERHART, 1/03/09, The Kansas City Star)
    -PROFILE: Old Master in a Brave New World (Lev Grossman, May. 28, 2006, TIME)
    -PROFILE: John Updike on Religion (Benedicta Cipolla, November 19, 2004 , Religion & Ethics)
    -PROFILE: Updike and the Women: The Witches, The Widows, and the ambiguous bliss of misogyny (Emily Nussbaum, Oct 19, 2008, New York)
    -PROFILE: Master Writer Shares His Craft Despite Himself (Catherine Foster, 7/15/96,The Christian Science Monitor)
    -PROFILE: Rabbit Trails to God: John Updike has made a career of writing the most theological novels in America (Mark A. Buchanan, 7/01/2003, Christianity Today)
    -ESSAY: Why Everyone Used to Read Updike …: And why his best stories are still worth reading (Mark Oppenheimer, 1/01/2004, Books & Culture)
    -ESSAY: Among the reviewers: John Updike and the book-review bugaboo (By Wyatt Mason, December 2007, Harper's)
    -ESSAY: John Updike's literary via negativa (Christian Century, May 24, 1995)
    -ESSAY: The theological dimension in John Updike's fiction (John McTavish, April 2000, Theology Today)
    -ESSAY: Myth, gospel, and John Updike's Centaur (John McTavish, 1/01/03, Theology Today)
    -ARCHIVES: John Updike (The Guardian)
    -ARCHIVES: John Updike (NY Times Paper Cuts)
    -ARCHIVES: John Updike (The New Yorker)
    -ARCHIVES: John Updike (NY Review of Books)
    -ARCHIVES: John Updike (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW: of The Poorhouse Fair by John Updike (Donald Barr, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Centaur by John Updike (Orville Prescott, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Pigeon Feathers by John Updike (ARTHUR MIZENER, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Telephone Poles and Other Poems by John Updike (X. J. KENNEDY, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Couples by John Updike (Wilfred Shhed, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Bech: a Book by John Updike (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Rabbit Redux by John Updike (Anatole Broyard, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of A Month of Sundays by John Updike (Anatole Broyard, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Picked up Pieces by John Updike (Anatole Broyard, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Rabbit is Rich by John Updike (John Leonard, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Bech is Back by John Updike (Edward Hoagland, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike (Margaret Atwood, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Witches of Eastwick (Greenman Review)
    -REVIEW: of Facing Nature by John Updike (Gavin Ewart, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Roger's Version by John Updike (David Lodge, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Trust Me by John Updkie (Marilynne Robinson, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Self-Conscious by John Updike (Denis Donoghue, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Just Looking by John Updike (Arthur C. Danto, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Rabbit at Rest by John Updike (Joyce Carol Oates, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Rabbit At Rest by John Updike (James Wood, guardian.co.uk)
    -REVIEW: of Odd Jobs by John Updike (Martin Amis, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Memories of the Ford Administration by John Updike (Charles Johnson, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Brazil by John Updike (Barbara Kingsolver, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Afterlife by John Updike (Jay Parini, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Golf Dreams by John Updike (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Toward The End of Time by John Updike: John Updike, Champion Literary Phallocrat, Drops One; Is This Finally the End for Magnificent Narcissists? (David Foster Wallace, October 12, 1997, NY Observer)
"Of nothing but me … I sing, lacking another song." -John Updike, "Midpoint," 1969

Mailer, Updike, Roth-the Great Male Narcissists* who've dominated postwar realist fiction are now in their senescence, and it must seem to them no coincidence that the prospect of their own deaths appears backlit by the approaching millennium and on-line predictions of the death of the novel as we know it. When a solipsist dies, after all, everything goes with him. And no U.S. novelist has mapped the solipsist's terrain better than John Updike, whose rise in the 60's and 70's established him as both chronicler and voice of probably the single most self-absorbed generation since Louis XIV. As were Freud's, Mr. Updike's big preoccupations have always been with death and sex (not necessarily in that order), and the fact that the mood of his books has gotten more wintery in recent years is understandable-Mr. Updike has always written largely about himself, and since the surprisingly moving Rabbit at Rest he's been exploring, more and more overtly, the apocalyptic prospect of his own death.

Toward the End of Time concerns an incredibly erudite, articulate, successful, narcissistic and sex-obsessed retired guy who's keeping a one-year journal in which he explores the apocalyptic prospect of his own death. It is, of the total 25 Updike books I've read, far and away the worst, a novel so mind-bendingly clunky and self-indulgent that it's hard to believe the author let it be published in this kind of shape.

I'm afraid the preceding sentence is this review's upshot, and most of the balance here will consist of presenting evidence/ justification for such a disrespectful assessment. First, though, if I may poke the critical head into the frame for just one moment, I'd like to offer assurances that your reviewer is not one of these spleen-venting, spittle-spattering Updike-haters one encounters among literary readers under 40. The fact is that I am probably classifiable as one of very few actual sub-40 Updike fans . Not as rabid a fan as, say, Nicholson Baker, but I do think that The Poorhouse Fair , Of the Farm and The Centaur are all great books, maybe classics. And even since Rabbit Is Rich -as his characters seemed to become more and more repellent, and without any corresponding indication that the author understood that they were repellent-I've continued to read Mr. Updike's novels and to admire the sheer gorgeousness of his descriptive prose.

    -REVIEW: of Toward the End of Time (Margaret Atwood, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Bech at Bay by John Updike (James Shapiro, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of 'More Matter by John Updike (WILLIAM H. PRITCHARD, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of More Matter (Stephen Moss, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of More Matter (Adam Mars-Jones, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Gertrude and Claudius by John Updike (Richard Eder, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Gertrude and Claudius (Adam Mars-Jones, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Gertrude and Claudius (James Hopkin, The Guardian)
      -REVIEW: of Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism by John Updike (Sanford Schwartz, NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of More Matter: Essays and Criticism by John Updike (John Gross, Booksonline/UK Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: Bech at Bay by John Updike (John Gross, Commentary)
    -REVIEW: of Bech at Bay (Adam Mars-Jones,. The Guardian)
    -REVIEW : of  Licks of Love: Short Stories and a Sequel, 'Rabbit Remembered by John Updike (James Wood, London Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Licks of Love (Alfred Hickling, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Licks of Love (Xan Brooks, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Early Stories by John Updike (Cynthia Ozick, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Early Stories (Robert Macfarlane, The Guardian)
    -Villages By John Updike (Michiko Kakutani, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Villages (Walter Kirn, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Villages (Adam Mars-Jones, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of Villages (Blake Morrison, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Terrorist by John Updike (Robert Stone, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Terrorist (Michiko Kakutani, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Terrorist (Jem Poster, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Terrorist (Tim Adams, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Seek My Face (Galen Strawson, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Seek My Face (Adam Mars-Jones, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of Due Considerations by John Updike (Tim Adams, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Still Looking: essays on American Art by John Updike (Geoff Dyer, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Widows of Eastwick by John Updike (Caroline Moore, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Widows of Eastwick (Christopher Tayler, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Widows of Eastwick (James Walcott, London Review of Books)

Book-related and General Links:

Comments:

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Yes, Rabitt is not always likeable. that's what Updike is going for: the death of the American dream. He is selfish, and the books are a bit lurid, but, that is the genius of Updike. A charcter does'nt have to be loved, or even liked for that matter, to be interesting. True the 2nd through 4th books are better than the first. I still give it at least a b plus\ a minus.

- Ed

- Apr-26-2007, 18:45

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What purpose is served by calling a fictional character a prick? The question is whether the character resembles many actual people and where he or she is less than realistic, whether the imagination and heart are stirred.

This is not a review by a competent reader, but a character assassination of an imaginary being. The first step in understanding and evaluating literature is a wide tolerance and compassion for characters and humans that are less than ideal. This reviewer receives a D.

- Robert Clark

- Jul-11-2006, 11:43

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About your Rabbit review: I think you shouldn't read a book like this, or the entire series, looking for some kind of justification. The series, as well as Rabbit, Run, ended in true nature of the existential helplessness that fueled the underlying tone of the books. If anything, we should find pieces of our own selfish natures with which there are no clear formulas. How can clean cloths still make a difference when we can trample over people we think we love? It's simple: some people are assholes, and with Rabbit, we are disturbed to see how we can relate to some of his reactions to life. Maybe we admire him for taking initiative, or maybe we despise him (a feeling that does evolve from being enthralled anyway), but in the end - the book is relatable and that is where we have been awaken to our own condition.

- Matt Mcgregor

- Aug-14-2003, 15:57

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I can't agree. Although Rabbit Run, was very depressing the entire series is wonderful. Yes, Rabbit is an a** but he is a lovable one. Even he is surprised at how deeply affectionate people are towards him. In Rabbit is Rich, he is toally surprised at Thelma Harrison's longterm affection just revealed. He is a selfcentered boy/man led by his member but what man can claim much different. He is an amazing character. In american literature is there any better? Updike is a genius as he spands decades having us see the world and the times of it unfold in the life of Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom and his family, friends and associates. From a high school sports star, to a cheating husband then spurned, to shacking up with an eighteen year old half his age, to a swinging rich man to snowbird, Rabbit is riveting. To really appreciate the series you must read it all. And read it you should.

- Mike Colicchio

- Jan-02-2003, 10:03

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I can't agree. Although Rabbit Run, was very depressing the entire series is wonderful. Yes, Rabbit is an a** but he is a lovable one. Even he is surprised at how deeply affectionate people are towards him. In Rabbit is Rich, he is toally surprised at Thelma Harrison's longterm affection just revealed. He is a selfcentered boy/man led by his member but what man can claim much different. He is an amazing character. In american literature is there any better? Updike is a genius as he spands decades having us see the world and the times of it unfold in the life of Harry "Rannit" Angstrom and his family, friends and associates. From a high school sports star, to a cheating husband then spurned, to shacking up with an eighteen year old half his age, to a swinging rich man to snowbird, Rabbit is riveting. To really appreciate the series you must read it all. And read it you should.

- Mike Colicchio

- Jan-02-2003, 08:51

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Thank you for your review of Rabbit, Run. I, too, was repelled by Harry Angstrom yet carried along by Updike's wonderful writing. But ultimately, I decided that the prose cannot overtake my revulsion for the lead character. I shall run no more, instead go back and re-read Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu, and revel in a true work of American greatness.

- David

- Dec-22-2002, 19:29

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