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Rabbit, Run by John Updike

Rabbit, Run (original 1960; edition 1996)

by John Updike

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4,194701,191 (3.6)298
Title:Rabbit, Run
Authors:John Updike (Author)
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (1996), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Books about Writers
Tags:suburban, suburbs, marriage

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Rabbit, Run by John Updike (1960)


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Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
The Rabbit series has been on my reading list for a very long time, mainly because the final two volumes "Rabbit is Rich", and "Rabbit at Rest" won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. But in order to fully appreciate the continuing story of Harry Angstrom- one must wade through the first two volumes- "Rabbit Run" and "Rabbit Redux".

"Rabbit Run" takes the reader back to 1959. Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom- former basketball star of the local small town high school- is now 26 years old, married with a toddler and another child on the way, works in a “five and dime” store demonstrating vegetable peelers for minimum wage, and it is a gross understatement to say that Harry is not very happy with his life.

The opening scene presents a despondent, frustrated young man coming home from work to a rundown, sparsely furnished apartment where his cranky and pregnant wife is lounging on the sofa chain smoking, chugging Old Fashions and watching cartoons... while the toddler, Nelson, is up the street at Harry’s parent’s home being fed dinner.

Welcome to the world of a couple born of the “Silent Generation”... small town America.
Seldom including a college education, young boys regularly went off to fight the Korean war, and came home to a job in a factory or retail, married young, and immediately started a family. Marriage was generally to a local acquaintance based on childhood infatuation. Compatibility was merely a matter of geographic convenience, and the end result was often fleeting sexual attraction, fading beauty, and mundane co-existence.

John Updike’s claim to fame may very well be that he depicts that time frame so well… skillfully carrying the couple through four novels from their cradle to grave. "Rabbit Run" is the story of Harry Angstrom and his wife Janice in the early years of their marriage. And it is no “Leave it to Beaver” story. As a whole, the story is dark and somber. But it is clearly not without moments of Updike’s wry humor.

When Harry walks out on Janice, the family minister befriends Harry in an effort to help save the marriage. Harry tells Reverend Eccles, “I once did something right. I played first-rate basketball... and after you’re first-rate at something, no matter what, it kind of takes the kick out of being second-rate. And that little thing Janice and I had going, boy, it was really second rate.” The humor comes in when Harry- in an impulsive moment- smacks the behind of Reverend Eccles cute little wife. And later when the Reverend gives Harry a ride and drops him off at a prostitute’s house. But of course, no one was laughing, and the darkness quickly follows. Eccles finally loses his cool, and barks at Harry, “you’re monstrously selfish. You’re a coward. You don’t care about right and wrong; you worship nothing except your own worst instincts.”

As Harry and Janice muddle through their floundering marriage, we witness the influence of their parents and friends, their cultural values, spiritual backgrounds, and Harry’s stream-of-consciousness reasoning.

Ranging from flamboyant poetic descriptions to ridiculously excessive intellectual metaphors, John Updike’s writing is sometimes difficult to read. During some of the most critical scenes I found myself asking, why couldn’t he just tell the story? And yet, other times- from Harry’s point of view- the story is bluntly crude, crass, and arrogantly vulgar. ( )
  LadyLo | Feb 12, 2015 |
A very entertaining story about Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom's life, he has a wife that has trapped him into a relationship bearing a unplanned son, he's trying to cope with the demands that society puts on his life, but he withdraws from the situation and takes off running. The author John Updike writes so every word has its place, like making a jigsaw puzzle, every piece has its place like his words too form a explicit story line. ( )
  Gatorhater | Feb 2, 2015 |
This book came to me with warnings of its dark mood. Great, I thought. Right up my alley. And as I also like my books to be, it is not all about the plot.

The story unfolds slowly, allowing time for a real sense of place and personality to develop. We hear the internal monologues of various characters and however superficial their actions seem, their rationalisations for them are not. Being able to marry the action with the persons justifications for it is quite a treat. And it is this, I think, that made me love reading this book.

The plot itself does exist, and it involves Rabbit- a lanky ex-basketball high achiever, who is navigating his way around his young marriage. This is proving not as exciting for him as his heady days of sport. Rabbit is keen to explore and fulfill the needs of himself only, and has no qualms about making use of anyone who can assist his passage. He has a local church man willing to try to steer him on a more morally sound course, and his parents-in-law also care. His wife is struggling with alcohol and the stress of having a largely absent husband whilst caring for a toddler and being heavily pregnant. It is a sad state of affairs. The book ends with an incident, the result of which there is no coming back from. I look forward to reading the next installment. ( )
3 vote Ireadthereforeiam | Nov 27, 2014 |
Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom was once the star of the basketball team. Now he is the "old guy", married to a wife with an alcohol problem, and just wanting to escape. He attempts to drive to Florida but ends up turning around, driving to his old coach's home who introduces him to a woman that leads him down the wrong path. While I can appreciate that this book is well-written and that it holds literary merit, it is not one that I find particularly enjoyable. It's a book that is read more for the characters and situations in which they find themselves than for a "good feeling" that one might get from reading another work of literature. It shows the consequences of poor decisions -- his own decisions, those of his wife, those of his coach, etc. ( )
  thornton37814 | Nov 10, 2014 |
This is a story of Harry Angstrom who was a good basketball player in high school and at the age of twenty four is married with a two year old kid and a pregnant wife. He works in a store selling kitchen utensils. One day he realises how dull his wife is and how boring his life has become and so he walks out of his house and drives clean across the state. What follows are a series of misadventures and inadequate steps taken to rectify them.

The beauty of this book is that even though we realise that Harry nicknamed Rabbit is an utterly selfish and self centered not too bright person, we still sympathise with him. We get where he is coming from and his disappointments in life. We feel his restlessness and though his decisions are wrong we cannot bring ourselves to criticize him. This fact makes this book a classic and a hit. A five star read. ( )
  mausergem | Oct 30, 2014 |
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Updike, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Germeraad, R.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Boys are playing basketball around a telephone pole with a backboard bolted to it.
A serious shadow crosses her face that seems to remove her and Harry, who sees it, from the others, and takes them into that strange area of a million years ago from which they have wandered; a strange guilt pierces Harry at being here instead of there, where he never was. Ruth and Harrison across from them, touched by staccato red light, seem to smile from the heart of damnation. (p. 144, Penguin 1964 ed.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0449911659, Paperback)

Rabbit, Run is the book that established John Updike as one of the major American novelists of his—or any other—generation. Its hero is Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, a onetime high-school basketball star who on an impulse deserts his wife and son. He is twenty-six years old, a man-child caught in a struggle between instinct and thought, self and society, sexual gratification and family duty—even, in a sense, human hard-heartedness and divine Grace. Though his flight from home traces a zigzag of evasion, he holds to the faith that he is on the right path, an invisible line toward his own salvation as straight as a ruler’s edge.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:23 -0400)

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Tired of the responsibility of married life, Rabbit Angstrom leaves his wife and home.

(summary from another edition)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141187832, 0141037520

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