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Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike

Rabbit Is Rich (1981)

by John Updike

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: "Rabbit" Series (3)

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Rabbit is entering middle age having bought into the American system and getting rich. Rabbit continues to be shocking in his frankness of approach to his life. ( )
  kale.dyer | Dec 16, 2016 |
This is the continuing story of Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom. For those of you that did not read "Run Rabbit" and "Rabbit Redux", I strongly suggest you do so… now. Otherwise, you will never understand what actually makes Harry ‘run’.

"Rabbit Redux" ended in 1971 with the hippie era. Now it is 8 years later. Harry and Janice managed to salvage their broken marriage. Harry is running a Toyota Dealership and son Nelson is away at college. On the surface things look good, but there are problems... major problems.

The dealership is owned by Harry’s mother-in-law and his wife Janice, so all major decisions are in their hands.
In addition, Nelson has gotten his girlfriend pregnant and wants to drop out of school to join the family business. And if Harry is not enough of an unlikable character… Nelson is even worse. A chip off the old block and then some, Nelson has a sense of entitlement that even Harry never had. And it doesn’t help matters that Nelson is rude, unkind, selfish, and despises his father.

Meanwhile, Harry is 46 years old and going through a mid-life crisis. By today’s standards 46 is generally an enjoyable age, but not for Harry in 1979. All the vibrant, enlightened Baby Boomers are coming of age and Harry is not one of them. He sees himself as being tied down- married to a woman he never fully loved- having married her only because she was pregnant. And Janice is just not enough to make Harry happy. When Janice left him- back in Rabbit Redux- he had no self confidence and ended up bedding down with an 18 year old hippie child. It was not for love but mostly to boost his ego and to spite Janice. And now he is obsessed with sex. Harry is constantly thinking about sex, making metaphors about sex, and analyzing the physical attributes of every female with whom he comes in contact.

What makes this series unique is that the story revolves around the domestic issues of Harry Angstrom’s entire adult life… his family, their careers, health issues, relationships with each other, family members and friends… all from the male perspective. From the trivial details of daily life to the major life defining moments, Updike covers every detail.

The author cleverly weaves into the story lots of current events of that year: politics, economics, world news, entertainment, and sports: the Carter administration, gas shortages, Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick scandal, the Iranian hostage situation, inflation and the run on gold, real estate development, and the new wealth that afforded Caribbean vacations, Japanese electronics and foreign cars.

"Rabbit is Rich" has a deep, more substantial style- less poetic and flowery metaphors and more blunt and to the point prose. And the plot moves along at a brisk pace. But the sex? Spare me the details… please! Once again there was never anything romantic, tender, beautiful or passionate about Harry’s sex life. It was mostly sad and degrading. What is with that? Perhaps it is a result of Harry’s resentment due to the emasculation of having to work for his wife and mother-in-law. Or maybe he’s never actually experienced real love. Whatever the case, Harry’s obsessive daydreams about sex seem out of proportion with all his other concerns in life.
Having no other experience with John Updike’s writing other than the Rabbit series, I am unable to determine if it is just a characteristic of Rabbit, or Updike’s own personal idiosyncrasy.

John Updike definitely created a memorable cast of characters you won’t soon forget.

Winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer. ( )
  LadyLo | Feb 19, 2015 |
Yet again, I really don't like this guy, but I could hardly put the book down. Janice comes into her own in this one, but Rabbit is still a weak-willed ne'er do well, and his grown son is now following in his footsteps. But I just couldn't wait to see how they would screw up their lives next. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 22, 2014 |
Glad to finally finish up this last book in the Rabbit Angstrom series. This one ties up a lot of loose ends, as we find Rabbit comfortable & middle aged, his marriage finally solid again, Rabbit in charge of the dealership his father in law owned after Janice's father passes away. They have a membership to the country club, & at the beginning of the book, Nelson is in college. The problems begin when Nelson quits college & shows up at the family home with a girl, which crowds the old Springer home, where Rabbit & his wife live to take care of her mother after her father's death. Rabbit & Nelson clash multiple times over Nelson's future, & Rabbit is still unhappy with his life.

They go through a bunch of different things, including a "shotgun wedding" when Nelson finally shows up with Pru/Teresa, who is pregnant & refuses to either get rid of or give up the baby.

The terminology of some of the language is part of why this series is on the banned book list, but it was the most engaging & interesting of the four, in my own opinion. ( )
  Lisa.Johnson.James | Apr 10, 2014 |
This is the 3rd in the Rabbit Angstrom series and won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Interestingly, this is my least favorite book of the series. All 3 books have a common theme of searching for meaning and purpose in life with a constant background of Rabbit's obsession with sex. In the first book, Rabbit, Run, Rabbit is a young man who got his high school girlfriend pregnant and feels trapped in his marriage. I enjoyed this book, partly because the setting is the idyllic 50's and Rabbit's confusion over where is life is going makes sense for his age. The 2nd book, Rabbit Redux takes place in the turbulent 60's. Rabbit is divorced and is going through a midlife crisis and is swept up in the turmoil of the times - Viet Nam, race riots, protests, etc. But in this book, we are now in the 70s. Rabbit has a good job, a stable marriage, but like the other two books, he is still searching. I guess I would expect by now that Rabbit would have grown in character and not have the same obsession with women's bodies and oral sex and fantasize about his son's girlfriend. He is way too old and has experienced too many tragedies to be this whiny and self obsessed. Although I've never liked him, I expected some change. ( )
  jmoncton | Nov 10, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Rarely has a single character been so faithfully followed for so many years by so many readers. Rarely has anyone written like John Updike. As a writer, he dared his fellows to be perceptive, to be honest, and above all to be specific. How large his footprint, how ghosted.

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Updikeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Veldhuizen, DorienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'At night he lights up a good cigar, and climbs into the little old 'bus, and maybe cusses the carburetor, and shoots out home. He mows the lawn, or sneaks in some practice putting, and then he's ready for dinner."
GEORGE BABBITT of the 'Ideal Citizen'
The difficulty to think at the end of day,
When the shapeless shadow covers the sun
And nothing is left except light on your fur...
'A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts'
First words
Running out of gas, Rabbit Angstrom thinks as he stands behind the summer-dusty windows of the Springer Motors display room watching the traffic go by on Route 111, traffic somehow thin and scared compared to what it used to be.
Rather than face who it is, he runs. (p. 113)
Rain, the last proof left to him that God exists. (p. 125)
...all the souvenirs of the dead bristle with new point, with fresh mission. (p. 184)
He enunciates with such casual smiling sonorousness that his sentences seem to keep travelling around a corner after they are pronounced. (p. 191, of the Rev. Archie Campbell)
As always when he sees his son unexpectedly Harry feels shame . . . Run, Harry wants to call out, but nothing comes . . . (pp. 240-41)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0449911829, Paperback)

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award
The hero of John Updike’s Rabbit, Run, ten years after the events of Rabbit Redux, has come to enjoy considerable prosperity as the chief sales representative of Springer Motors, a Toyota agency in Brewer, Pennsylvania. The time is 1979: Skylab is falling, gas lines are lengthening, and double-digit inflation coincides with a deflation of national self-confidence. Nevertheless, Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom feels in good shape, ready to enjoy life at last—until his wayward son, Nelson, returns from the West, and the image of an old love pays a visit to the lot. New characters and old populate these scenes from Rabbit’s middle age as he continues to pursue, in his zigzagging fashion, the rainbow of happiness.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:11 -0400)

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His son's return and reminders of a former romance threaten "Rabbit" Harry Angstrom's comfortable new prosperity.

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